Kahlil Gibran on Family

FOOTSTEPS AND FINGERPRINTS

Here in upstate New York I am enjoying my vacation with my brother and his wife, their children and grandchildren. Both a time of relaxation and bonding.

Lately, I have been reflecting on the value of family and friendship. I have also been reading from The Prophet authored by the Lebanese philosopher Kahlil Gibran. Some of his thoughts on Friendship have a direct congruence with family relationships. I would like to share these thoughts on Friendship with you, substituting “Family” for Gibran’s “Friends.”

“Your ‘family’ is your needs answered. ‘Family’ is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving. … When your ‘family’ speaks their mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay”. … For without words, in ‘family’, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

“And let there be no purpose in ‘family’ save the deepening of the spirit. For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

“And let your best be for your ‘family’. If your ‘family’ must know the ebb of your tide, let ‘them’ know its flood also. For what is your ‘family’ that you should seek ‘them’ with hours to kill? Seek ‘family’ always with hours to live. For it is your ‘family’ to fill your need, but not your emptiness. And in the sweetness of ‘family’ let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

Gibran’s words thus modified truly give depth to the meaning of relationships within the family and help us realize the importance of the family.

Baptismals, birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, picnics, or just ‘days off with the family’ are the glue that bonds families together. Families should never be replaced by barkada groups, workplace concerns, or hidden agendas.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if sibling brothers and sisters, parents and children, and family relatives could answer this definition of real family friendship? If they could experience the wonders of laughing and crying together? If they could be friends as well as caring family members – through thick and thin, through disagreements and accomplishments, through hurts and joys?

I especially like Gibran’s phrase “Seek ‘family’ always with hours to live.” Not with hours to kill! Being together with family is in itself a prayer of presence, a way of nourishing caring, loving relationships, a way of strengthening the bonds of family oneness. We must treasure such times of togetherness and use them for good, for uplifting activities, rather than for drinking bouts, gambling, or other unproductive, time-wasting, health-damaging, unprofitable pursuits.

Family and strong relationships are the anchor of our social system and culture. One of the greatest treasures given us by God is our family. We must always ask ourselves: Do I really treasure my family? Is my family truly important to me?