By Margaret Clark, Canberra Regional Meeting

It is official. I am an orphan. I’ve been left behind with no one to look after me, to make sure that I eat properly, get to work on time, or go to bed at a decent hour.

Two of my dear family are climbing in Nepal, and the third is at surf camp for a week. The freezer is full of easy-to-reheat-meals and I’ve hidden the television from myself, trashy television programs being a
personal addiction.

For the first time in a couple of decades I have the house, and dog, to myself for more than a few hours. As I write, I anticipate going slowly, but undeniably, insane. It’s the first evening and I’m already lonely. I hear my heartbeat as it echoes around the empty room and so turn on the radio for company.

As part of a family (of whatever description) we often talk about the time we give to our children, partners, siblings, or parents. Tonight I am even more aware of the gift of time we receive from our
families and from each other. It occurs through the simple act of sharing – the small events in our day, the sound of rain, or the taste of a meal. The memories of such shared experiences also sustain our
sense of fulfilment, both as humans and as souls experiencing life’s journey.

Regardless of whether one shares their life on a daily basis or more irregularly, it is the coming together which enriches all.

Capturing some of these shared experiences, common as well as unique, can help to create memories and build traditions. Tonight when I lit our dinner candle the table seemed less dark, and
when I held a silent Quaker blessing with our traditional ‘magic strings’ to those not present, I felt connected with those I love. In a few weeks’ time, the advent traditions and Christmas decorations will fill our
home with shared memories of family and friends both near and far, especially those loved ones who have passed away.

Such gifts of both time and shared experiences are wise investments in our families, ourselves and the wider communities of which we are a part. More importantly, they make a house and home, and a room less empty.

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