Happy Easter. This has been a lovely day, trees blossoming, tulips reaching up, lawns glowing green, and a feeling of joy and gratitude at church meetings. The chance to meet for family dinner, if somewhat rowdy, also brings joy. Love pours out and satisfies as we meet in a community related by affection and respect even more than by genetics.


Actually, I have sent for a genetic analysis of my DNA–twice. I recently received notice that the first one didn’t work, so I extremely carefully spit in the bottle and followed the directions. Let’s see what I get back in about six weeks. Gary has already received his information and was surprised to find that he is about 35% Irish. As an adopted child, he knew very little about his genetic heritage except that it was Scandinavian. Our children are interested in seeing how their DNA works with their parents I have been amazed at the ways in which my children resemble each other as well as how very different each one is.


Nature and nurture are both powerful: Sometimes I recognize in myself gestures my mother made, her sayings, her reasoning and her mannerisms. I don’t notice my father’s heritage so much since he died when I was eight, but I do see resemblances with Moody cousins, sometimes uncanny similarities.


Family is a glorious, irritating, worrisome, health-promoting, inspiring, saddening, humorous, disappointing and nurturing organism. My experience with extended family has been that when we meet again even after, maybe, years, something acts like a magnet, and we want to adhere to them. Then after the event of gathering, usually a funeral, we go home a little frayed from being ripped from them. Yet for many of us, our lives are separated by distance and multiple other concerns. I try to send my weekly letter to cousins I don’t see often, hoping to keep up a connection, even if it is a low-voltage connection. Our genes call to each other when we do meet face to face. The magnetic pull is tangible. What will it be like to meet family in heaven with no time or distance to prevent all the contact we desire?


I don’t think, however, that these ties are all genetic. Most of my family are Mormons. We try to live by certain standards of behavior that include honesty, temperance, virtue, and service. When we meet, we have behavioral ties that bind as well. Sometimes offshoots rebel. While this may offend our expectations, my observation is that we mostly accept, dwelling on the positive, enjoying that which matches and downplaying actions we wish they were ashamed of. We know that disdain doesn’t bring people closer. Besides, sometimes surprising behavior is interesting and refreshing. If it’s also wrong, we pray that they will find the truth we have found precious..


How can we remain accepting when someone offends our deeply held beliefs and standards? Our inborn and loyal certainty that each one belongs and is loved forbids retaliating. No matter who or what tries to strain or sever our union, the physical and/or social DNA that we share is strong and elastic, pulling us to each other in indefinable and eternal ways. PMA