Title: What Is A Family
Author: Edith Schaeffer
Many years ago while sitting around a campfire in the North Georgia mountains my fellow campers found out that I had not read the works of Francis Schaeffer and they were quick to point out my cultural illiteracy and intellectual impoverishment. I was embarrassed by my “ignorance” and committed to reading the works of this “20th century prophet.” They did me a great favor by pointing me to the books of F.S. They did me a second favor by suggesting that I first read L’Abri (written by Edith) before moving to the works of Francis. L’Abri was a great read and it did indeed better prepare me to benefit from the works of Francis.
Now, many years later, I have not only read the works of Schaeffer, but also taught several seminary sessions on them. However, L’Abri remained the only book of Edith’s that I had read until reading this book, What Is A Family. WHAT WAS I THINKING ???!!! I should have read her books years ago.
That is not to say that I immediately fell in love with What Is A Family. After reading only a few pages of “What Is A Family” I found myself skipping sentences, then browsing paragraphs, and finally progressed to merely skimming whole chapters. “It has too many metaphors, illustrations, and flowery words,” I told my wife. “I really want to read something with some content.”
However, somewhere towards the middle of the book I found myself literally engrossed in a section on how to give a sick family member a sponge bath. Why did that section grab my attention and hold onto it? Guilt ways heavy upon a man’s soul and it finally got the best of me. Even though I had been merely browsing and skimming, I had clearly heard the book’s message that we do not properly invest time, attention, energy, creativity, and self in our loved ones. Family meals, creative expression, clothing, linens, tone of voice, timing for discipline, and all of the other topics addressed are much more than “metaphors, illustrations, and flowery words” — they are issues of vital importance.
However, do not make the mistake of thinking that this book is just another book in the “How To Have A Happy Family” genre. This book is about quality of life — true life — real life. So I went back and began to read the book again. This time I did not merely browse the portrait of family as a mobile, nor skim the section on dressing for dinner, I breathed them in and was blessed by them. I think you will be blessed by this book, also. I heartily recommend it .
Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to slip out and kiss my wife, caress my infant’s back, speak a soft word to my daughter, tickle my two year old son, and tell my seven year old how proud I am of him. Then, I am going to drink a glass of cold water and take time to really enjoy and be thankful for each and every sip. And afterwards . . . well, maybe I will take a nap. Dad used to say that sometimes the most authentically spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.