12th July 2012 | Miranda Harris | 9 comments

Family trees

We just got back from a family reunion, quite a big one – huge in fact. One branch of the family couldn’t make it, and one much-loved sister stayed behind to care for a very sick brother, but about 80 others travelled from all over the globe, eager to reconnect with each other. We rented a conference centre in the Netherlands, and slept in dormitories or small cabins in the woods. One night the rain was so heavy I thought ours might detach itself from the soggy ground and float away.

A Rocha 2012 Forum delegates

Since we were last together there have been births and deaths, marriages and separations, triumphs and tragedies; there have been major challenges at work, some setbacks too, plenty of surprises and disappointments – just like in any other family. So we spent a week catching up, lots of talking and occasional listening, eating Dutch food, drinking coffee and tea and wine (supplies of which were brought in by the French contingent, mistrustful of northern vineyards), telling stories and birding in the surrounding countryside whenever the programme allowed and the rain held off for long enough. A family friend had prepared talks to begin each day. His deep knowledge of the Bible, moving personal story and strong sense of humour combined to serve up a spiritual feast, digested by small groups who met afterwards to discuss and pray.

So what makes this family different from so many others? Well for one thing its members are all adopted. And we come from many different countries and cultures. We are joined together by a common passion and a shared faith, and we are deeply committed to each other for the long haul. You might say that our DNA is more spiritual than biological, that we recognise each other because of the values that shape our family life. We are all Christians, involved professionally in nature conservation, motivated by our love for God and the things he loves. We work within and across many cultures and languages, trying to build community wherever we are with anyone and everyone working to protect our fragile planet, whatever their beliefs – or lack of them. This is an infinitely expandable family, one where all can find a welcome.

In the middle of this A Rocha family gathering, our own small family tree was expecting an addition, and just a few days ago the name Eli joined the bottom line as his aunts and uncles, parents, grandparents and cousins rejoiced. But today I am celebrating that other family tree I belong to, and marvelling at the way tiny acorns become tall oaks when the conditions for growth are right.

Categories: Stories
About Miranda Harris

Peter and Miranda moved to Portugal in 1983 to establish and run A Rocha’s first field study centre. Together with their four children they lived at the centre for twelve years until 1995 when the work was given over to national leadership. They then moved to establish A Rocha France’s first centre near Arles, and lived there until 2010, providing coordination and giving leadership to the rapidly growing global movement. They are now back in the UK from where they work to support the A Rocha family around the world while being closer to their own, and not least their grandchildren. Their story is told in Under the Bright Wings (1993) and Kingfisher’s Fire (2008).

View all posts by Miranda Harris

9 responses to “Family trees”

  1. ruthvalerio says:

    This is lovely, Miranda. I’m very envious that I wasn’t with you all to share in it as it sounds so inspiring.

    • Júlio Reis says:

      It sure was inspiring, Ruth! To give you an idea, the morning talks were on the subjects of: Grace; Work; Sabbath; Community; and Money. Each of those left us with much food for thought.

  2. Philip Church says:

    My first experience of the family was truly inspiring. I discovered I have been part of it all along without knowing.

  3. Sarah says:

    How perfectly you have summed this up! 🙂

  4. Rachel Simonson says:

    Yes! A Rocha = “Spiritual DNA” – always part of us and our children too… Thank you for writing this for us Miranda.

  5. Melissa Ong says:

    I miss this family!

  6. Lydia Robledo says:

    We want to be part of this family!!! 🙂
    Lydia- Manila, Philippines

  7. Bertrand Bender, A Rocha Suisse says:

    Dear Miranda,
    Thank you for summing up so well this family reunion of ours ! We were so blessed with each other from all over the world… Just not enough time to share with all but I could again see how much our Lord and Father loves A Rocha and has tender care for it. Let us persevere in what God gives us to do despite triumphs and tragedies, knowing that He cares about what we do and loves us.

    Blessings to you and Peter as you go along… Bert

  8. Sylvia Goater says:

    Indeed, I well remember the first A Rocha family event that I attended at L’Eau Vive near Aix, How many years ago was that? It was a landmark event too. So many experiences and encounters. Never to be forgotten. The tree was only a sapling then, It’s growth is amazing, veritably awesome.

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