A Gang of Seven

 Pointing the Way


 Two Movements

 Three Sacraments

 Facets of Vital Engagement

 Vital Engagement:
            Life Blood of Trust

 Steps Towards Trust

 Missed Steps

 Unseen Options  

 Justice in Relationships




For my sister, Sharon, it’s the event of the year. On Christmas evening we all go. Every year we expect less. Every year there’s more. Children appear unannounced. Sharon hands them gifts that delight. A spread of food is waiting. She keeps a sharp eye out. No wine glass remains empty.

In the middle of the evening my husband, Carl, says something that offends my brother, Jason.    Jason leaves.  Carl goes after him and apologizes.  Jason drives off.  We all sit stunned.  It never happened before.  At least not at one of Sharon’s Christmas parties.

On the way home Carl apologizes for ruining my evening.   Why should I expect more from him than I expect from Jason?   I feel rotten.  For Carl.  For Jason.   For Sharon.  For me?

The next day Sharon calls to tell me that she and Jason and my mother will not be coming to our house as planned. They are going to a restaurant. Jason needs time to cool down. Carl and I accept a last-minute invitation to join friends.

The day after Christmas I sit alone with the phone on my lap. I want to talk Jason. Or do I? Is he still angry? Why should I make the first move? Why not wait for him to call? Why is it always up to me?

I began building my reputation in childhood. I am the caretaker, the peacemaker. “You can make it okay for me.” It’s what my father wanted me to believe when I was little. It’s what he said in his last moments. Only it wasn’t exactly like that. “DON’T JUST STAND THERE WITH YOUR TEETH RATTLING IN YOUR MOUTH! DO SOMETHING!” I could not arrange my parent’s reconciliation. I could not see to my father’s escape from death. Were there not lessons to be learned?

I love Carl. I love Jason. I want them to like each other. I want my brother to know what a good man Carl is.

Is this about them?

I want to talk to Jason. I dial the phone. The sound of his voice conveys what it always conveys. He is glad to hear the sound of my voice. We talk about little things. I am a trapeze artist swinging by my legs. I let go and reach out, trusting -- hoping the other will grab my arms. I speak from my side about the Christmas eve thing. I say I was sad and disappointed. I do not apologize. I keep it between Jason and me. He says it’s okay, that Carl apologized. “Apology accepted,” he says. I remind him of the invitation to our traditional New Years’ Day dinner. I tell him I hope he will come. He says he will.

I hang up the phone and breathe a sigh of relief. I took a risk. I stepped forward. If I had not taken the initiative the ripple effect would have enveloped everyone involved. I overcame old patterns and broke through to new possibilities. I stopped imagining how to make it okay between two someone else’s. I finally imagined the value of my presence and my words. When my brother visits he will take my dog for a walk. He always does. This time I will go with him. He likes that. So do I.