Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I wonder if your relationship with your siblings ever change much. I am in the mountains of New Mexico visiting my parents with the kids, and saw my brother and sister-in-law for a few days before they left this morning. The routine with my brother didn't deviate much:

* We tried to dunk each other in the pool
* We played video games late into the night (conquering new territory, albeit electronic)
* We discussed the things that are coming up in our immediate future - his building a new house and my move to Pittsburgh

It doesn't take us long to fall into this pattern when we are together, and we enjoy it as it usually good-natured and seems to reinforce the bonds that are there (even the time we were wrestling in the winter, trying to force the other person into the yellow snow left by the deer). I can imagine us, me about 75 and he 65, as we throw out our backs seeing who can lift the heavier weight (ala Manenbaughns on Seinfeld).

This pattern of life is comfortable, but when things change, or maybe even when they need to change, something always seems to be lost as the patterns shift, there is a time of uncertainty as both sides feel their way around again, and new patterns emerge.

I've been thinking about discernment lately. Seeing the patterns of relationships, the intertwining of the paths and the open spaces where we tread with other people. This is one of the areas of the stories of Jesus that fascinate me, how he could see to the heart of those patterns. He could understand the motivations and the perceptions, and then challenge those connections that we have with each other. He was a disturbing and destabilizing force.

Discernment. I believe some people are just naturally better at it, and some better because they work at it. I think we who try to follow in the footsteps of Jesus are called to work on their discernment. The problem is that it is so easy to use what we know about the patterns around us to manipulate them into strenghtening our own position. I suppose that is where wisdom comes in, being able to challenge the patterns around us so that it benefits all, even at our own expense. That may be the toughest when it includes looking at the ones that are closest to us, and the patterns will affect our own.

There are some forces in life that challenge us. My brother and his wife are expecting their first child, and that no doubt will mess with the patterns of their life, and those of us around them, from here on out.

So, tell me, how do you think we can get better at this discernment with a tad bit of wisdom thrown in?

Digg this


Ellyn said...

seeing as my brothers don't talk...our greetings are


Jonathan always says on the phone--"hi this is your brother Jonathan"...because I would mistake him for all the times James calls to chat?

vaught_family said...

So how do you communicate in your family? Do you just talk to the wives when you have something important to say?

Ellyn said...

we gals handle all the talk!