I have a hunch that the only thing worse than being a orphan is having a family! I know, that is a very dark thing to say… I also know from living my own life, observing as many as four generations of a family in a congregation and studying the dynamics of Family Systems that all families are troubled. Anxiety rising past the threshold of tolerance often produces “cut-off.”
“The concept of emotional cutoff describes people managing their unresolved emotional issues with parents, siblings, and other family members by reducing or totally cutting off emotional contact with them. Emotional contact can be reduced by people moving away from their families and rarely going home, or it can be reduced by people staying in physical contact with their families but avoiding sensitive issues. Relationships may look “better” if people cutoff to manage them, but the problems are dormant and not resolved.”
(Bowen Family Center http://www.thebowencenter.org/pages/conceptec.html)
Rabbi Edwin Friedman said many times, “People who are cut off, particularly from their family of origin do not heal.” That being the case he said the bridging cutoff boosted the immune system. He encouraged clergy to work to overcome cut-off in their own family in service to their own health as well the healing of their people.
A useful question of Scripture is, “Where does my story intersect THE story?” One of the ancient practices is the Cycle of the Liturgical Year. The season preceding the Twelve Days of Christmas is Advent. It is a time to watch and wait. It is a time to be pregnant with Mary (and Elizabeth). It is time to pay careful attention to dreams, the inner life, with Joseph. Above all we await the coming of the child Jesus, Emmanuel: God with us.
When Ralph Waldo Emerson was dying, the story goes, his aunt exhorted him to make peace with God to which he replied, “I was not aware that we had quarreled.” His aunt’s response is, so far as I know, unreported. My answer to Ralph Waldo, is a quote from Isaiah the Prophet (9:2), “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”
Matthew the Evangelist picks up the melody, “The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.’ (4:16). This is that for which we waited. Now Heaven is joined to Earth and Earth to Heaven. I other words, in Jesus the cutoff between God and humanity is bridged. This great universal theological truth is for the healing of our story, here – now – in real time. The immune system of all creation is quickened that healing will break out among the nations and indeed the whole of creation. JWS