My sons recently planned a family reunion birthday gala to celebrate my 80th birthday, as well as the birthdays of my older son and grandson. The reunion was held at the family cabin north of Kohl’s Ranch, which nestles beside the Tonto Creek and under the Mogollon Rim. It is a stunning setting, and being there brought back a multitude of memories.
My husband’s grandfather built the original cabin. He belonged to the American Baptist Church in Phoenix; a group from that congregation bought the acreage and built five cabins as well as the church camp that stands there today. A flood washed the original cabin away in 1970, and my in-laws built the “new” cabin shortly thereafter.
The original Homeowners Association decreed that there could be no drinking, no smoking, nor any dancing on any of the properties. Only members of the American Baptist congregation could buy property there. As time went on, and the subsequent generations inherited the land and cabins, those rules became more relaxed and today they are ignored altogether.
What I especially enjoyed about the weekend was watching the family traditions unfold. My father-in-law taught my husband to fish for the native trout in the Tonto and Horton Creeks, as well as in the nearby lakes. My husband taught my two sons to fish in the same way. My son taught his two sons, and my grandsons have added a new dimension: they are teaching their fiancées to fish! When I was their age, it was the family tradition for the women to cook enormous amounts of food for the returning fisherman, and keep the cabin clean and tidy.
I appreciate that as time has passed, the family traditions have changed to accommodate the new thinking. The most important change I saw at the cabin was the gender-based roles have become nonexistent. I watched my sons and grandsons cooking, washing dishes, vacuuming, and doing laundry. The women grabbed fishing poles and headed for the streams.
I think rituals and traditions are important as long as they remain meaningful.
When I first joined this congregation, our opening ritual included reading a short description of each of the major world religions, and lighting a candle to honor each of them. Today we honor the same by incorporating the spiritual symbols that hang in our banners. When the banners are no longer meaningful, we will develop another method of honoring our shared origins, traditions and history.
We have kept some traditions through the years, and changed others. Almost a year ago, we decided passing the offering baskets no longer worked for us. Today people drop their gifts, donations and contributions into the baskets located in the foyer, a tradition that better serves our needs.
One thing that has remained constant in our service is the love and joy that is expressed through our Sunday talks (which we call “reminders”), our affirmative prayers, and our music. The words of Ernest Holmes, our founder, create the foundation on which everything else rests. We honor what stays germane, and change what does not. And that keeps us relevant.
Whatever the mind holds to and firmly believes in, forms a new pattern of thought within its creative mold, as whatever thought is held in mind tends to take outward form in new creations. This is the secret – and the whole secret—of the creative law of mind. — Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind 494.2
— Pat Masters