I am witnessing once again that which I most greatly fear. In this case, it arises not in my own life and relationships, but is being mutely and helplessly observed in the professional arena that is my work with the dying. This one hits home because the one dying happens to be my age…and much too young to be leaving this earth. I watch her estranged sister, desperately attempt to make reconciliation, spurned by whatever history has bound the hearts of her family and locked them into the prison of unforgiveness. She is turned away, with her words of remorse having never left the portal of her lips. There is no prodigal ending here. It breaks my heart, no, it shatters it as I realize the deep love that I carry in my heart for my sisters. Although I do not see them often, I think of them almost daily, wondering about and praying for their well being and happiness. There are no words eloquent enough to describe the devastation of soul that occurs when sibling turns back on sibling. I am not saying that discord is unallowable- it is inevitable. But family is family. You do not dispose of brothers and sisters as casually as you would bin a candy wrapper. Unforgiveness leaves an indelible stain, a perpetual shadow on the one denied mercy and grace. There are so many definitions of ‘family’, and I have often found myself trying to create something that might be called such. I know that it does not have to consist of flesh and bone and blood, but somehow, there has to a a covenantal relationship built upon the safety and trust of knowing that all that is good, and all that is not, will be accepted as a part of the whole. If I can not hold a different belief system, cannot be true to what God reveals to me, without the fear of rejection then the comfort of ‘homecoming’ becomes nothing more than another fraud-filled stage production.