Last week our family joined millions of other people on the highways for the annual American pilgrimage called the Family Summer Vacation.
Like most other people, we save our money for a year, plan the calendar around the date, spend hours trying to figure out how to get all the stuff in the car, count the minutes until we hit the road and, then, eventually return home exhausted from all the leisure time spent together.
I refer to the exhaustion part based on several observations. One was my gas stop on the return trip. . While I was pumping gas, the members of the vehicle on the other side of the pump were sharing a meltdown moment. The two boys in the back seat were fighting over the last cookie. The mother was screaming at both of them. They were all sunburned, and the father, who was pumping the gas, was trying to hide behind the car. Seemed as though they had experienced enough togetherness and sun.
I think we set a record for transporting stuff this year. Two of our three grandchildren are under the age of 2, and they require more paraphernalia than I remember when our children were that age.
It covers the floor. One takes great risk in getting up in the night and walking in the dark.
The annual resolution is made that next year we will not bring so much stuff, knowing very well that we will do the same thing again.
Yet, those hours are so special when we have all of the family together at one time. In fact, those moments are a gift from God. I try to do all in my power to embrace them and experience every minute.
What I remember most are the times around the table. Meal times become sacred moments for family. That is the case whether eating in or eating out. One memory of eating out is the look of fear on a server's face when she sees three small children pull up to the table.
The sound of laughter also lingers. It is the kind of laughter that only occurs from being together, sharing stories and realizing that more is being consumed than food. We were blessed to have many of those sacred moments.
It is not coincidental that the Bible paints a picture of the future Kingdom as being a great banquet table and a festive sharing of relationships as well as food.
The table is where everyone has a place, where life is shared and laughter communicates love.
In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus says: “The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.” Throughout Scripture, the royal feast is one of the chief images of the coming Kingdom of God.
Life is now back to a normal routine, and with that routine is the hope that one day we will again sit around the table, sharing food but especially sharing the gift of laughter.