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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Family - Nourishment for the Soul

An ounce of blood is worth more than a pound of friendship says an old Spanish Proverb.

If you grew up in Taos, you probably already know what it’s like to be part of a large, extended family. Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and elders line the picture wall of your home. The same faces you saw over the edge of your crib are the same faces you saw at your baptism, first communion, confirmation and wedding. They were present at the baptism of your children.

If you grow up in the same town where your mother and father grew up, places have an accumulated significance. It’s not just your favorite fishing hole, it’s the spot your father showed you and the one his father shared with him. That lonely stretch of road where your grandmother took you to harvest pinon nuts is the same place you’ll take your grandkids some day.

The rivers and streams that tumble out of the mountains flow across centuries of time. When the church bells toll in Taos Valley, they not only count the hours but the generations as well.

Thomas Moore was talking about family when he said, “It's difficult to imagine anything more nourishing to the soul.”

Family life is full of drama large and small. There are the ups and downs of health, success and failure in career, marriage, and divorce. Family is full of all kinds of characters. There are the stubborn ones and the crazy ones – the ones who have led charmed lives and the ones who have suffered at Fate’s hands. Sometimes you think, the family must have only two purposes: to provide warmth and love in time of need and to drive each other insane.

Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet sometimes we behave as though we take our family for granted. We have to be reminded to respect the people whom we love the most and remember that we may see them all the time now, but that might not always be the case.

Family is tied to places, events and histories. With all of these felt details, life etches itself into our memories and personalities. How many nights have you and your family sat around the table after a family feast and told stories on each other until your sides split with laughter -- or the stories about the ones who are gone now -- fond tears whisked away.

You say you don’t believe in ghosts? Then you’ve never been to a family reunion.

Harmony is a word that describes the combination of simultaneous musical notes in a chord or the structure of music with respect to the composition and progression of chords. It is also a word that means a pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts; correspondence, accord, internal calm and tranquility.

Harmony also means an interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative. The songs of our families mingle and blend through the generations to tell our story. The individual tunes are strung together -- one big family heirloom of joy and sorrow – fear and courage.

Being part of a family means you have someplace to go even when your last friend has turned you away. But it also means you must realize every decision you make – for bad or good – is a decision that effects more than you alone. Your failures belong to your family as much as your successes.

The family is a strange little pack of characters that go through life sharing colds and deodorant, coveting each another's wardrobe. We hide cookies from each other. We borrow money. We lock each other out of our rooms. We inflict deep wounds and then kiss it to make it better. We love, laugh and defend each other. We and try to figure out the common thread that binds us all together.

And if you didn’t grow up in Taos, but found yourself here after years of hopeful searching for the family luck did not seem to give you, you might know what it’s like to roll into town and feel like you’re home at last.

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