Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This Weekend, Dickens, and Nicholas Nickleby

I come from a small family of three; I am an only child. Growing up, I remember our family life together often felt, well, rather small. And sheltered. And sort of isolated. Not a lot of connection with the wider outside world. Safe and insulated, that was our family. My parents liked it that way. Perhaps they were compensating for some pain in their own past.

By way of contrast, this Memorial Day weekend has been a busy one, full of get-togethers, parties, celebrations and friendship.

Thursday night there was a party for the girls JV Water Polo Team from South Pasadena High School; tons of girls and noise and laughter. Saturday night was a birthday party for our new friend, Megan, who is getting here Masters of Divinity from Fuller Seminary. New friends, new beginnings, and a celebration of a life redeemed.

Sunday afternoon was a lunch with two families we have known for years; our kids are growing up around us, heading off to college and becoming amazing people.

Yesterday was an old tradition, Memorial Day lunch and swim with old friends of more than 20 years.
Being surrounded by those you love is a blessing beyond measure.

Charles Dickens knew this, and celebrated struggle, friendship, and family in his writing. One of my favorite Dickens stories is Nicholas Nickleby. This is a story of suffering, of loss, of loyalty, character, and above all, love and friendship. And this story has been made into one of my all time favorite films. At the end of the movie there is a speech made, that for me is wonderful and full of meaning. It does not quote Dickens directly, but it is good enough for me:
"In every life, no matter how full or empty one's purse, there is tragedy. It is the one promise life always fulfills. Thus, happiness is a gift, and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes, and to add to other people's store of it. What happens if, too early, we loose a parent? That party on whom rely for only....everything. What did these people do when their families shrank? They cried their tears. But then they did the vital thing, they built a new family, person by person. They came to see that family need not be defined merely as those with whom they share blood, but as those for whom they would give their blood. It is in that spirit that we offer this heartfelt toast, to the brides and grooms!"
This has been a weekend rich with sharing, laughter, and friendships, both new and old. I am deeply thankful.
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