“The family is the first essential cell of human society.” –Pope John XXIII
Have truer words ever been spoken? Where would I be without my family? Though I put God first and foremost in my life, I would be nothing, have nothing, achieve nothing, and live for nothing if not for my family. Not seeing most of my extended family for over a year was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in life. Thankfully, that long, dry period ended this past weekend.
On Saturday, we hosted a graduation party for our middle child, Katie Ann. She graduated in May from Mount St. Mary’s University, but we wanted to give our family a little more time to be comfortable in a large gathering, so we asked them all to save the date for August 21. It made my day to get responses like, “I told the rest of the family they could do whatever they wanted, but I will be there come hell or high water,” and “I’m done with not seeing everyone.” We were all determined to be together, and not even a potential tropical storm was going to keep us apart.
Opera great, Robert Breault, is attributed with saying, “What greater blessing to give thanks for at a family gathering than the family and the gathering.” And he was so right.
We were blessed with a sunny day, not even the heat could bother us, and we never felt a drop of rain from the predicted storm. We had enough food to feed an army. We saw aunts, uncles, and cousins we hadn’t seen since Easter of 2019 and March of 2020. Close friends–family to us– joined us from as close as the next town over and as far as Long Island, New York. There were yard games and loud music and a big cake. But most of all, there were lots of hugs and smiles and catching up. Some came early and some stayed late, and we cherished every moment because it wasn’t really about the games or the food or the music or the cake. It was about the gathering together of those we love.
The day was just special. There wasn’t anything remarkable about it. It was just family, getting together to celebrate the achievement of one of its own. But it was also a regathering, a reacquainting, a reaffirming. It was a day to visit and a day to catch up. It was something that I think was needed by every one of us. We need family like we need breath.
There is something inexplicable about the bonds of a family. Author Richard Bach said, “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” I love that. Family is bonded by “joy in each other’s life.” We gathered in joy to celebrate Katie’s graduation, to extol her accomplishment, to emulate and share in her joy, an emotion I’ve written about before. Joy doesn’t come from anything we do or have; it’s a gift from God. It can only be obtained through pure, radiant love of God, and that love, that joy is reflected in the family.
The family–the daily recreation of the Holy Trinity, the unit through which God works miracles, showers love, and creates community–is the fountain of God’s joy on earth.
Perhaps that is what playwright George Bernard Shaw was witnessing when he penned, “A happy family is but an earlier Heaven.” May your family be a reflection of God’s love, a bit of Heaven on Earth.
Be sure to catch me next at:
August 28 – Book signing – St. Mary’s Crab Festival in Leonardtown, Maryland 11:00AM-7:00PM
September 18 – Book signing – Abbeyfest in Berwyn, Pennsylvania 11:00AM-9:30PM
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019), A Devotional Alphabet (2019), Desert Fire, Mountain Rain(2020).