This past weekend I witnessed a remarkable thing in Kansas City. My college roommate and her five siblings have made a habit of gathering together to celebrate every time one of them turns 60, and it was Dina’s turn. They came from their homes in Kansas, New York, Arkansas and Kentucky and spent several days together talking, laughing, exploring the area, enjoying each other’s company. I was invited to join the party and marveled at this group, posing here in front of a Monet at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Kansas City is Dina’s backyard, so she chose the activities, restaurants and agenda. Our excursion at this highly impressive museum had something for everyone. The entrance hall alone gives you some idea of its grandeur.
I did not expect the exquisite marble interior!
Or the mummy of Ka-i-nefer.
Or the mummy mask of Meret-it-es.
Or works by Degas.
Or Hieronymus Bosch.
Or parts of a medieval cloister.
Or a giant shuttlecock! This one is 18 feet tall – way taller than it looks in this photo. I am standing on a tall ledge.
But as absolutely remarkable as everything in the museum was (and I am showing only a fraction of what we saw), it didn’t hold a candle, in my estimation, to how remarkable these six siblings are, shown here after the birthday dinner at Cascone’s.
And here with spouses against the nighttime Kansas City skyline.
These wonderful people find a way to come together several times a year. They get along, overlook their differences, forgive each other their occasional bumbles, express interest in each other’s separate worlds and not only maintain familial ties, but also have fun and build new memories. The days together included meals of course (this was one breakfast – Dina the Birthday Girl is in pink),
and time in the hotel’s hot tub, time for naps, time for a jigsaw puzzle, time for telling stories, time for touring special homes (Fred and Dina in front of this 25-room Victorian mansion called the Cray Museum in Atchinson, Kansas),
and time for Dina’s birthday cake.
I asked some of them how they manage it, how they are still smiling after the loss of both mother and father, how they navigate diverse political affiliations and life choices, how the physical distances between their homes mean almost nothing – indeed how this many very strong individuals can be so (overall) very agreeable when they get together. The answers were expressed differently, but boiled down to the same thing: mutual respect. No one tries to lord it over anyone else or tell anyone else what they should do or how to think.
I watched and saw numerous examples. They waited patiently while one or more (I won’t say who!) took longer getting through the museum exhibits, even if the rest were ready to get going. Later they all stood outside for a while around that fire pit (in the skyline photo above) even though it was kinda, sorta, yeah quite cold (!) out there – because some wanted to. I watched them give each other room to be individuals, to have different opinions and different preferences. I watched them consistently practice the I Cor. 13:4-5 kind of love that is patient and kind, that does not envy, does not boast, that is not proud, nor dishonoring of others, nor self-seeking, nor easily angered, that keeps no record of wrongs. “Consistently” is a key word here.
I watched Six Siblings Celebrating (try saying that six times fast!!). When in the future, in another location, they come together again, I have no doubt it will be just as pleasant, enjoyable and meaningful an occasion as this one was. I hope they know what a beautiful group they are, what a wonderful model for their children and friends and others, and how honored and delighted I myself was to have been a part of their amazing circle for a few days.