There was a time, not so many years ago, when the six of us gathered often. No place cards were necessary. Seated at the head of the table I reached out my left hand and touched Barbara. I had to reach quickly, though, since she popped up and down all dinner long, serving us. My right hand would fall upon Charles, generally at a modest velocity. Julia and Pamela, always good friends as well as sisters, sat across from one another. Sam enjoyed his perch at the far end of the table. Sometimes he had to repeat himself several times to be heard, but he learned great patience and persistence. We learned to listen to him for some of the funniest quips at any given meal.
It had taken more than a decade since Julia's birth for all the members of the family to arrive and lay claim to their special spot. Now, as each of the children has grown into adults, they are moving on to other tables in other places all over the world. Soon, however, we will gather all six of us plus Viggo and baby Daniel. I cannot help but wonder when the next such gathering might occur. The distances we must travel, the complexity of the calendars we must reconcile, and the number of us to be included, all continue to grow. Even so, I know that we will strive to gather from time to time. The wonderful knowledge of our membership in this family always seems greatest when we are gathered around the table. The store of memories we share will grow and grow. We will recount our new adventures as well. They grow ever more astounding. Educations and careers unfolding. Places visited. New friends and loved ones added to the circle.
Of course the day will come, when we can no longer gather together in this life. How sweet it will be then, when we gather in the next life with God in our midst.