I am trying unsuccessfully to read Wendell Berry over morning coffee. My youngest sister, wise beyond her years at eleven, observes the title of my book and says, "'Fidelity' is one of my favorite words."
"Do you know what it means?" I ask.
"Oh yes. I learned it when I looked up butterflies in my nature book."
This puzzles me and I say so; she tells me that there is a kind of butterfly that goes by this name, fidelity. "Such a beautiful word," she says again.
My siblings are smart cookies. I like to think I learn by osmosis, and so I try to spend as much time hanging out with them as possible. From my youngest sister I learn the names of clouds, trees, flowers, and the small creatures that thrive in our field and woods. Another sister is an artist with a gift for the shapes of bodies and faces and the spread of paint, which is something my forays into sketching could never begin to approximate; from her I learn about colors and how to realize the imagination. My sister the musician speaks eloquently about the inner workings of musical compositions and the history of the discipline, teaching me what it means to pursue something with perseverance and passion; music, I now know, is a lot of work.
And my brothers. Science brother solves our sewing puzzles with cosines and tangents on the weekends and during the week he experiments with semipermeable membranes in the lab. Someday I would like to know something about science and math, but this too takes work (and as I said yesterday: There are still so many novels to read.) From my youngest brother, the handyman in the family, I learn what it takes to build decks and repair cars, but also (more importantly) how to be graciously, abundantly generous. He treats his friends like royalty; they are lucky to have him.
My aunt used to call us the Alphabet Soup Kids because our names are alphabetical (A-F, ending with G). But the name is also appropriate because we are so diverse. We have such different talents, enthusiasms, and goals. And all these differences, some of them more dramatic than others, are mingled with so much kindness and so much love. Today I am grateful, both for this gift of diversity within the home, but also for my awareness of it, and for my family's faithful endeavor to mindfully cultivate the blessing we are for each other.
Here we are + Dad + dog. And my mom is taking the picture. So here we really all are.