We Greatly Value the Unique and Contributing Role of Families!
We Value Intergenerational Connectedness
Summer can be a time, especially here in the United States, when families gather to reconnect and strengthen family bonds. These family reunions encourage us to make the effort necessary to spend time with our family members, to grow closer to one another, and to remember all that our ancestors have done to get us where we are today. Big Ocean Women place great value on intergenerational connectedness. The connections among our own generation and extended generations can help to build a foundation under our feet so that we can remain standing when faced with challenges. Feeling connected to one’s family can provide emotional strength and even physical healing. It can empower the entire family and individual family members to do hard things.
The Japanese people celebrate this intergenerational connectedness in one of their most important Buddhist traditions, the O-bon festival. They believe that during O-bon, the spirits of their ancestors return home to visit living relatives. It’s a very special time, and family members prepare by cleaning the house, setting out food, and lighting candles and lanterns. Nowadays this tradition has become somewhat of a family reunion because family members who live far away from their hometown travel home to be there to welcome their ancestors. The tradition also includes a special service at the temple and a dance called Bon-Odori where young and old clad in kimonos or summer yukatas form circles and perform dances that have been passed down for generations. In a very special way, the tradition of O-bon can build a foundation of strength beneath the feet of those who keep this tradition alive.
A few days ago our family attended O-bon at the Salt Lake City Buddhist Temple. I felt close to my ancestors as we ate the Japanese food and joined in the dancing. As my grandson and I looked through the glass window to see the beautiful and ornate butsudan (altar), I told him that our family, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, believe that there is life after death and that our ancestors are watching over us and helping us in many ways. I wanted him to feel the strength and security that I feel knowing that I am deeply connected to my family for generations.
More than ever, it is important for us to draw close to our family members. Whatever your family looks like, make the effort to strengthen it. My immediate family members are not all biologically related. Our three children are adopted. My husband’s family was unofficially adopted by a Danish couple who had no children. Their love and nurturing of my husband has made a great difference in his life. He calls them Aunt Larue and Uncle Vertis, and they are his grandparents in every way. Through Aunt Larue we are privileged to be considered part of the Ella and John Michaelsen family and are headed to that family reunion this weekend.
A friend once said to me, “What if you don’t have close family ties?” I thought about what I could say to her because I knew that she could see the value and blessing of a close family. I told her to first mourn the loss of that close family and then commit to start building that blessing for those to come.
As we build and cherish our family and experience intergenerational connectedness, we are building a foundation that will be a source of strength and power and confidence for our loved ones.
Big Ocean Chairwoman of the Board