Family has been on my mind a lot lately. Our son is getting married in a few weeks to a young woman whom David and I adore, and we couldn’t be happier for them. All the wedding preparations bring memories of weddings past – our daughter’s wedding 10 years ago and our own 34 years ago this fall.

Beyond my immediate family, my oldest brother and his wife are here for a short visit with his “adopted” mom, who is celebrating her 98th birthday. It’s a different family system genetically, but she is my brother’s family nonetheless. Our other brother and his wife came to visit with them, and as we shared family stories, so many memories came flooding back.

We talked about our dad and how hard it is to believe he’s been gone four years this month. I shared the sweet moments of the recent memorial service for the woman who had been our mother’s best friend as a young wife and mother – the precious woman who told me about my mother, whom I barely remember.

I think about our youngest grandson who turns two this week, and his big brother who will be five in May. At the other end of the lifespan, David’s mother will be 98 the end of this month, and she is as delighted as a child at the wedding festivities.

Today “family” includes those who are family-of-choice as well. I can’t imagine being without my sisters in recovery, who are as dear to me as familial relatives. A couple I have known and loved since my teens, others I have walked with for nearly 25 years, and a few have joined the circle in more recent seasons. We love and support each other at the deepest levels.

I think of the “family” who meets in worship on Sunday mornings, the “family” of friends whose prayers string like glowing lights across the country, the Bethesda Workshops “family” who brighten my day with emailed updates or notes of encouragement, the “family” of trusted colleagues who stand ready to talk through difficult cases.

Theologian Frederick Buechner writes, “You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”

Scripture says, “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:18); and the church of my childhood often referred to “brothers” and “sisters” in Christ.

English writer and biographer Elizabeth Jane Howard conducted a close study of families and concluded, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.”

Amen. And many blessings on my family everywhere.

Marnie C. Ferree