I lost my voice that night - from shock and fury - and it took a full week to get it back. But I learned some things from that dinner that have changed the family dynamics ever since.
Not that I was anticipating disaster. They are usually a lovely and sane group of people who exercise a reasonable level of self-control. But sometimes the stresses of preparation for the holidays, changes in work schedules, and general fatigue, can turn a normal family gathering into a bloody battlefield unless we engage in the prayer that protects and defends each one invited to the table.
It should be a joy to prepare a meal that brings family together. An essential ingredient of that preparation is prayer that calls forth the highest and the best in all the participants as children of God. It is Love that gathers us to the table. Divine Love is the Spirit that Mary Baker Eddy refers to when she writes, "Spirit duly feeds and clothes every object, as it appears in the line of spiritual creation, thus tenderly expressing the fatherhood and motherhood of God. Spirit names and blesses all." (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p.507)
Identifying each participant as the child of divine Spirit, can help lift off world-imposed "in-law/outlaw" labels that might otherwise claim the floor during the festivities. In the line of spiritual creation, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Mother-daughter, father-son, sibling-sibling tensions dissolve as the line of spiritual creation appears to us in prayer.
After seven days of no voice - a much longer healing time than I had ever before experienced - I realized that I hadn't yet gotten over my anger at what had occurred that night. I suppose I was awaiting an apology or some sign of repentence. It didn't come. But that didn't mean I couldn't forgive. In order to do it, though, I needed to understand why I didn't have to fear a repeat in the future. I could pray right then - right after this holiday dinner - for the next gathering.
In prayer, I saw that my true home is my spiritual consciousness of God's love. The Psalmist promises that we live in the house of the Lord (See Psalm 23). There is no room in divine Love's house for unacceptable attitudes or behavior. My home is designed by Love to welcome and bring out the best in every one of God's children.
I forgave them. I forgave myself. My voice came back all at once. And I began to look forward to the next holiday meal.
I wish you the happiest Thanksgiving dinner preparations this week. And, please, for the the sake of all those gathering under your roof, don't leave out the most essential preparation for a successful, happy meal.
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