Intentional family. What exactly is it? Well, perhaps the best definition I have read comes from the wiki site Kinhost.
An intentional family is formed when a group of people choose to re-create a family, whether official or not, by choosing people to surround themselves with in familial support of each other. (Kinhost.org)
I have a few folks that are very, very close to me. For these folks, I would drop everything that I am doing – and get to where they are. Once there, I would help to bury the bodies, ditch the evidence, and never speak of it again to anyone. They are the part of my life that I cannot do without. I do whatever I can to help them whenever they have a need, even if it creates a temporary hardship for myself. They are more than friends to me – they are the family that I want. We go through the normal push-pull dynamics that families go through. We have arguments and disagreements. I am fairly certain that they do not vote in election cycles for the same people that I do. And a few of them have very different religious and spiritual practices than I do. But they are family to me. And I have no problem shelling out money, time, effort or emotions for them – just as I know they would for me as well. Nor do I expect any reciprocal act on their part. A mere hug and thank you goes far beyond that with me. Some of them are aware of this connection between us; some of them aren’t to some degree or another. But that’s a private conversation to be had between us at some other time and place – not here on a blog.
In John Beckett’s most recent blog, Something Bad Isn’t Coming, It’s Here, he noted:
If you’re part of a good, well-functioning extended family, consider yourself fortunate… and don’t alienate them. For the rest of us, find the people who will be your family of choice and start developing those close ties now. That means you give your share toward the collective good. Ideally, everyone gives more than their share.
For me, this is what intentional family and intentional community is all about. We all give to the collective good that is our family, and our community. I experienced a whole lot of this during the OBOD Gulf Coast Gathering this past weekend. I received and gave love, comfort, support with all the folks there. We learned together, we ate together, we were definitely together in that physical space. And even today, we are together. We formed a community, a special bond between all of us, and that bond holds us together. We came together as a group, and formed an intentional bond as we did rituals, and workshops – held discussions in various corners of the camp – and sang songs and acted silly among one another. What we gave to one another was a piece of one another. We chose to be vulnerable to one another by opening our hearts to each other. We developed trust with each other. We created an intentional community and family.
So why is this important? Well, harkening back to John’s blog post, tough times are certainly ahead. Whatever the future holds, the outlook does not seem as bright as it has been. Much like John, and many others, I have heard the whispers among the Spirits of Place, and between my trio of Gods and Goddess. I tend to avoid the news as much as I can these days, but one has to stay informed too. This morning’s attack in Brussels is but one piece of evidence of the potential changes that loom large on the horizon. The political climate here in the United States has the potential to change drastically over the rest of this year. Every day, my local news (or as local as DFW is to me nearly 70 miles away) broadcasts tell the tales of shootings of civilians and police officers over the last 24-hour period. Its not rocket science to realize how much turmoil is around us. My intentional family are my rock and my stability. Staying in touch with them is not always the easiest thing for me to accomplish – but after this past GCG, I am realizing that I must amp up my effort to do so. Without them, my compass disappears and I wind up lost in the miasma that permeates our mundane world.
How do you find people like this? Well, you can’t do it by sitting idly by. You can’t do it by being a wall-flower. I did that for too long, and watched good relationships dissipate because of my inactivity. You have to interact with people, find common interests that hold you together, and then begin to discover the rest of the stuff that is there too. You have to accept people for their differences, look past their physical appearances, and discover who they really are. And you need to nurture the positive aspects of your relationships with them. That’s not going to happen if you are sitting in the corner of the room doing your own thing. When you go to a Pagan Pride Day or an OBOD camp or an ADF Retreat – connect with the people you know, but also reach out to the strangers that you’ve never met before. You’ll never get to know them just by staring across the room at them. Unless you are Deanne Troi or some other Betazoid, you won’t be able to discern who they are, or how they feel just by jumping on their wave-length. And who knows? perhaps by breaking the ice with them, you will discover a new family member for your intentional family, or perhaps you will help bring them a bit more out of the shell so that they can make new friends at that gathering that may not be you. In that respect, you are serving as a catalyst towards a positive change in their lives. Ain’t that grand? I certainly think so.
I know that this single blog post is not going to change the world. Nor am I egotistical to the point of thinking that I can change your mind. Folks who already have intentional families or are part of an intentional community may be nodding their heads in agreement….or maybe not. For me, this is a big part of the change I have seen on the coming horizon for my life. For too long, I have lived a life with no true family. Only a handful of my DNA relatives are people I can count on for anything. Thus, I have to search a little further for my support base. And much like a garden, I have to cultivate it, grow it, expand it, and harvest from it. I also am part of their support gardens as well. Cultivation, nurturing, and harvesting will occur from me as well, for them. And its long past time for me to get my hands into the dirt of that garden…
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples. -Mother Teresa