For me, Heaven has always been where my family is gathered together.
I have such happy memories of countless family dinners, family home evenings, and special traditions shared at birthdays and holidays.
For a long time, I thought that my family--I mean the family in which I grew up--was perfect. We had such a strong bond that I thought that nothing could ever pull us apart. There was nothing that we couldn't laugh off, bake off, or run off together.
But as we grow older, I find that life and family relations are much more complicated than I ever thought they'd be in my youth.
Through it all, Family is still where I find my Heaven, my happy, safe place. I look forward to getting back to that place very soon.
My friend Wendy, who is hosting "30 Days of Pie" on her blog is also sharing some really sweet family traditions that can strengthen family bonds. You really should hop on over there and leave her a comment. She's new to blogging, and could use some blog love! It's worth it...I promise. I mean, seriously, would you really want to miss this?....
Today Wendy shared this WONDERFUL poem that her grandparents used to recite at every family gathering. It speaks of the joy of being together as a family, the eternal bond of families, and the fact that even death cannot break the bonds of family.
Here is the poem sprinkled with a few pictures from Thanksgiving Day two years ago.
"We Are All Here"
Charles Sprague, author
We are all here,
All who hold each other dear.
Each chair is filled; we 're all at home!
To-night let no cold stranger come.
It is not often thus around
Our old familiar hearth we 're found.
Bless, then, the meeting and the spot;
For once be every care forgot;
Let gentle peace assert her power,
And kind affection rule the hour.
We 're all — all here.
We 're not all here!
Some are away,
—the dead ones dear,
Who thronged with us this ancient hearth,
And gave the hour to guileless mirth.
Fate, with a stem, relentless hand,
Looked in, and thinned our little band;
Some like a night-flash passed away,
And some sank lingering day by day;
The quiet graveyard,— some lie there,—
And cruel ocean has his share.
We 're not all here.
We are all here!
Even they, —the dead,—though dead, so dear, —
Fond memory, to her duty true,
Brings back their faded forms to view.
How life-like, through the mist of years,
Each well-remembered face appears!
We see them, as in times long past;
From each to each kind looks are cast;
We hear their words, their smiles behold;
They 're round us, as they were of old.
We are all here.
We are all here,
You that I love with love so dear.
This may not long of us be said;
Soon must we join the gathered dead,
And by the hearth we now sit round
Some other circle will be found.
O, then, that wisdom may we know,
Which yields a life of peace below;
So, in the world to follow this,
May each repeat in words of bliss,
We 're all—all here!