Sacred Family Moments
It was a quiet night at home when Daddy disappeared into the backyard. A few moments later my two eldest boys found him out there splitting firewood, arranging it onto the fire pit. With excitement, they leaned in to break up sticks from last year’s summer garden, adding the kindling. The littles noticed through the window and squealed, racing around inside to grab the marshmallows, small hands fumbling to open graham cracker and chocolate bar wrappers. It didn’t take long before we were all gathered around the pit, bowls of marshmallows in hand, pulling up chairs to watch the baby flames spark to life. And for a moment, time stood still. The moon was rising and the first stars twinkled into sight. I took a deep breath and hugged my youngest closer. Everyone smiled, eyes lit with contentment. It was so good to be circled there together, savoring the warmth.
But suddenly, the flames snapped and a series of loud pops took us by surprise; sparks sprayed. My daughter screamed and buried her face into me. Her brother barked next to her, “Don’t scream in my ears!” while big brother frantically poked at the fire to shift the wood. Dad jumped up to intervene as my son turned, nearly jabbing his brother with the poking stick.
With my daughter’s desperate cries rising up for all the neighbors to hear, I yelled above the din, “Everyone sit DOWN and listen to some fire safety rules!” My teenager grumbled how everyone was messing it up.
As a mom of 4 there is something I have found out over the years: When perfect family memories are my goal I will find myself sorely disappointed. Oh, there are beautifully incredible, intensely satisfying moments we deeply treasure in our hearts, moments that are so rich it makes our insides ache with gratefulness. And through the patina of time they may appear flawless. But if we take a closer look, I’m sure we’ll remember that yes, there was sand in those sandwiches at the picnic on the beach, and yes, our socks were wet and soggy after playing all day in the snow. But while those flies in the ointment are real, they aren’t the part of the snapshot we focus on. This can help us let the messy family moments, become the meaningful family moments.
For years my husband and I loved photography -way back when cameras used film. We had our favorite quaint photo shoppe in the old town centre we lived near that developed them for us. My husband took stunning photos and I scrapbooked them. (That was way before we had a houseful of kids.) But one thing I remember about taking those pictures is that you always wanted the subject of your photo to be in focus. Everything else could be a bit blurry. In fact, it added to the appeal if it was. Somehow all the imperfections of the world around and the moment within that shot were smudged to perfection along the blurry edges of the frame.
I think family life is like a scrapbook of special memories. As we capture each picture, each memory, each moment, we choose what our hearts will focus on. Will the painful details of exploding diapers or heated arguments or bloody scrapes sneak themselves into the center of the shot? Or will they grace the edges, blurring and smudging enough to form an outer border, somehow poignantly framing the beauty of the moment?
With 4 kids there are very few moments when everything falls perfectly into place. But I can’t and won’t let that stop me from setting up experiences where all of us come crashing together around a table, a campfire or a storybook. Those moments are sacred.
Flaws and all.
Soggy socks and sandy sandwiches simply help tell the story, “We were there …together.”
The word sacred is defined as devoted, dedicated, consecrated for a holy purpose. Everyday as parents, we have the opportunity to devote space and time reaching around to the ones we love and circling them up in a sacred moment. We form the frame, we focus the shot, we teach them (and ourselves) what we will focus on and what we will let blur into the background, and then we enjoy.
Sacred moments are not perfect moments. They are moments set apart for a higher purpose. They can simultaneously be both messy and meaningful.
What mattered most about tonight’s clash around the campfire was that we were there. Yes there was drama, yes it was slightly painful, but we tumbled our way through it and in the end, as the dying coals were glowing bright red, we all felt deeply satisfied. A need in our souls had been fed.
How will you set aside sacred family moments with your family this month? It doesn’t have to be elaborate: A road trip with beef jerky and cinnamon gum to a local tourist trap. A candlelight dinner on real plates. A picnic at the park to feed the ducks and throw frisbees.
Sacred Family Moments are those moments when we are with the ones we love. They are not flawless, they are framed well.