How does your family rate in the ‘functionality’ stakes? Ok, don’t answer that! I’m sure all of us have a story we could tell about a dysfunctional aspect of our own family. Over the last couple of months I’ve listened to a number of people share the reality of their family life.
The first involved getting up at 4.30am to drive from the far south of Canberra, picking up our media guru, Jeanine, and then heading to the spectacular Clonakilla Winery near Murrumbateman. This was to ensure we captured Tim Kirk and a couple of his children wandering through the vineyard as the sun rose and the fog lifted. In this issue of the magazine, Tim shares what he thinks is required to achieve a ‘functional enough’ family. I absolutely agree with his suggestion of families eating together, with the TV turned off! In our home, dinner conversations morph from the mundane activities of the day to heated debates about who tipped which team in the footy tipping comp (a very serious matter at our place!). One of my all time favourite topics for the dinner table starts with the line, “When I grow up I wannabe a ……..”
I’ve also been privileged to hear stories about marriage and families at the two Archdiocesan Deanery Assemblies held recently in Goulburn and Cooma. The theme, Mercy in Marriage and Family Life, is a topic that has highlighted the need for mercy to penetrate the depths of dysfunction in our families. With the Archbishop present, there could have been a thought that the issues raised, and stories told, may need to be sanitized. But that was far from the case. Brave people shared stories about the pain of divorce, family members who are same-sex attracted, serious illness, drug and alcohol abuse and alienation from the church for a variety of reasons. The Archbishop shared stories about his own family. He encouraged us to lay bare our vulnerabilities, in order to allow others to demonstrate their merciful love. Whilst most of the issues were tough, there were plenty of moments of laughter as we shared the funnier tales of our dysfunctional families.
Sharing stories is a great way to unload burdens and recall joys. I hope something touches your heart as you read our wonderful contributors’ stories in this issue.