“Is that your boy?” asked the salty 82 year old owner of the marina as we backed the boat into the slip, with my son, Steve and son-in-law, Greg handling the lines. “Yes,” I answered, “He’s my son,” and then pointing to Greg, “and he’s my son-in-law.”
We were on a three day boat trip down the Potomac River, across the Chesapeake Bay to Tangier Island, then up the St. Mary’s River and finally back to Occoquan, south of Washington. It was early October and God had blessed us with absolutely beautiful weather – warm sunshine days and cool nights – picturesque sunrises and artistic sunsets. We had lunch at various crab houses along the way and anchored out each evening with one of the boys cooking dinner on the boat. We were all easy to be with.
Tangier Island is like stepping into a time warp, discovered by Captain John Smith in 1608, a population of 569 who still speak with a trace of Elizabethan accent; all connected either directly or indirectly with the crabbing industry. No cars, only golf carts and walking paths populated with houses and front yards filled with gravestones of preceding generations; lots of docks, marshes and crab boats.
It may sound like a small thing, but for the owner of the marina to see enough resemblance to ask the question, “Is that your boy?” made me feel kind of proud. Forty-three years separate my son, Stephen and me. He is 30 and vigorous. I have white hair and am not quite so vigorous.
In today’s society, families tend to get so disbursed that we can easily lose our sense of family and identity from generation to generation. We go our separate ways, life full of work, children activities and busyness; seldom doing things together, living far apart, seeing each other only on an occasional holiday. In prior generations, like Tangier Island, families tended to live together more, or at least in closer proximity, sons worked with their fathers and were a continuation of the father in both work and life.
Tradition tells us that Jesus initially took on the work of his earthly father, Joseph, working as a carpenter before he began his public life. “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:51-52) In his public life he also took on the work of his heavenly Father, becoming his presence in human form in the family business of salvation, offering the fullness of life from God, the Father to all people.
This is the natural order established by God – man, woman, family cooperating with God’s creative act to fill the earth and to work and take care of the garden of creation, extending God’s plan and leading each generation to God, so that God may one day be “all in all.” (1Cor. 15:28) Let us pray that God may be as proud of us, his extension in this world, as I am of my son, Stephen, son-in-law, Greg, and all my children, their spouses and families, who are an extension of our family and heritage.