Every year our family vacations at a place called, “Memorial House,” in Rehoboth Beach. The house is owned by the Diocese of Delaware and is an 11-bedroom home used for retreats, meetings, and, in the summer, for family and church vacations. Each family or individual has a private room, but the dining and living area is shared. Each day in the summer, a full, hot breakfast and dinner is served buffet-style, and enjoyed at shared tables with the other guests.
This year, our family vacationed with another family with two children. Joining us were a family with adult children, older couples, and some retired singles. Our four children were the only children this year, making our eight-person dinner table the most raucous. I lost count on how many tablecloths we changed, and the broom was never far from hand. The other mom and I worried a bit that we might be disturbing what could have been a perfectly peaceful vacation for the others.
Luckily, I had two encounters that told a different story. The first was with a grandmother who talked to us as we were preparing lunches. She joked with us about how much work she saw us doing. She confessed that she had already spent one week this summer at the beach with her own family – including children and grandchildren. But she had done so much work that week that she decided to come to Memorial House so she could have an “actual vacation”! Another grandmother talked to me at the end of our week. She pulled me aside and said, “You know, I had forgotten how much work I did as a young mom. You guys are doing a great job!”
What Memorial House does is a little like what Church does, when Church is at its best. You see, Church is one of the few places that multiple generations gather to worship, learn, and grow together. When the Church is at its best, grandmothers distract an inconsolable child when a mom or dad is at her or his wits end. When Church is at its best, a retiree is teaching children his favorite Bible Stories in dramatic and fun ways. When Church is at its best, youth know adults who might give them the same answers as their parents, but the youth can hear it better from someone else. When Church is at its best, we are a multigenerational family, welcoming those from all walks of life, making sure we are all fed, nurtured, and empowered to go out into the world to witness the love of Christ. This week, I am especially grateful for that gift!