As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David,
         Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window,
         and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord;
         and she despised him in her heart.
                   —2 Samuel 6.16

She’s his wife. One of them. Ah, family.
When people hanker to “get back to the Biblical family”
you know they’ve never read the book.
Cain and Abel… Abraham and his “sister” Sarah… Jacob and Esau…
Joseph and his brothers… Tamar and incestuous Amnon…
Solomon and his 700 concubines… and David and… well, everybody.

David is complicated. A hero and also a scoundrel.
Poet, musician, lover of God who dances in praise with all his might…
and rapist, murderer, schemer, self-server extraordinaire.
A good king whose platform sometimes seems to be “Hold my beer.”
The people who love him, including his family, hate him:
Saul assaults him…Michal spurns him… Absalom revolts against him.

How do you love somebody—especially in your family—
who’s both great and awful, lovable and despicable?
Well according to the honesty of the author of Samuel,
you just love them. You live with them, within limits.
You honor their gifts, and call them on their BS.
Sometimes you help them pick up pieces, sometimes you leave it to them.
But you don’t save them from themselves. You stay honest.
You figure out your choices, and theirs, and make yours.
And you remember we’re all equally beautiful and messed up.

In the Bible, the family is not some lovely tableau of niceness.
Family is where you work out your shit.
Not your family’s but your own.
Family is where you practice coming to a place where you can live.
And since we’re all family, it’s practice we all need.
Fortunately, the head of our family is the one sane, loving one,
the God we call Parent, the Christ we call Brother,
the Holy Spirit who holds us all together, no matter what.
For that, it’s worth dancing with all your might.
Who cares what your ex thinks?

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

July 7, 2021

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