|Caravaggio's Doubting Thomas|
Thousands of penguins, marching single file, waddling to the same icy valley where every one of them was born.
When they arrive, the penguins choose mates. This is no casual commitment: The mother penguin lays a single egg, and the father gathers it into the feathery folds below its large stomach, to protect it from the cold and ice. The mother penguins then go to the sea to forage for food.
For two months, the fathers stand – no food or water, in howling gales and temperatures far below zero, in darkness – each protecting an egg. To keep warm, the thousands of birds huddle together, taking turns moving from the outer edges to the center of the flock. And then in the spring, the eggs that have survived the winter hatch. Father and chick then await the return of the mother.
How do these thousands of penguins – who apparently look exactly alike – reunite with their mates and chicks (chicks the mothers have never seen)? Each penguin family has developed its own unique vocal signature. They are reunited by listening for their family amidst a crowd of penguin cries, whistles and pipes.
As you watch The March of the Penguins, you may feel a certain kinship with these birds who endure all kinds of physical hardships for the sake of their families.
Our faith in Jesus as our Lord and our God unites us as a spiritual family. Let’s reflect upon family life, a happy family.
1. Happy families have a good, solid sense of togetherness. They care about one another. They keep in touch; they’re hospitable; concerned about relatives; remember birthdays/anniversaries and participate in special family events. They take responsibility for family chores; they set times to eat meals together; they share the good news as well the bad. They keep their word.
2. Happy families don’t let outside activities control them; they control activities. As someone put it: “how can we enjoy one another if we never see one another?”
3. Parents have to let children become the persons God created them to be. Yes, they need guidance; but we shouldn’t force them to live out our dreams. The purpose of family is to nurture.
4. In all our relationships, avoid negative judgmental words; distinguish behavior we find objectionable from judgments about the person. Avoid blurting out judgments that undermine a relationship.
Let us think of ways to draw our family closer. Then we’ll discover an even happier family life.
Surely we can care for our loved ones just as much as the penguins care for theirs.