Helen and I have been fretting and sweating, not just because of this dome of heat covering most of the nation, but because a whole lot of McFarlands are going to descend upon us this week, from Canada and Florida and California and New Mexico and Iowa and Illinois and Indiana and, we hope, Ohio. Well, it’s not exactly “us” upon whom they will descend. We are gathering 35 miles south of us, at the beautiful Spring Mill State Park. A whole lot of us, for several days.
Since we live closest, we’ve had a whole lot of work to do to get ready, meaning we’ve called up several businesses and told them to do stuff for us and to deliver it at the proper times. Having a family reunion is exhausting.
Not just for us, but for those who are traveling. They’ve had to call up airlines and car companies and told them to bring them here. I’m sure there will be stories about flight attendants who put only one ice cube in their Coke when they wanted two. Or they’ll drive a day or two and stay in some motel that didn’t have a pool. Traveling to a family reunion is exhausting.
Having a reunion is such hard work, getting anything you want when you want it, going from place to place, from state to state, anytime you want, no one hindering you, no one saying you aren’t welcome.
Contrast that with families that want the most simple of reunions, just want to be reunited with their own children. But those children were wrested away from them and put in cages in Trump Camps, places they don’t even know where. They have no idea of how, or even if, they are being cared for.
Imagine my little sister’s now-grown children coming across the border from Canada, and their kids grabbed and put in cages and whisked away. Or my Florida sister bringing her little grandchildren to Spring Mill Park so that we can meet them only to have them grabbed away at the Indiana border and taken off to Idaho or Harlem or who knows where else.
McFarlands came to America from Scotland because the English king was claiming he had the right to do anything he wanted to with our children, that he had the “divine right” to disunite our families for his own purposes. We were the Presbyterians called “Dissenters,” because we believed there was only one King, the one to whom we prayed, and still pray, by saying “THY kingdom come, on earth.” We Dissenters were those who came as refugees, and once in this nation, we had only one objection to the new Constitution, which was that it did not specifically say that there was no king but God. We knew how badly things could go if someone in charge acted like a king who could break families apart for his own purposes.
Dissenters and refugees, we Scots on July 4, Independence Day, gather to celebrate how we helped to build a nation where there is no king, where any family can find refuge from oppression, and where any family can have a reunion any time, any place. If you’re white.
John Robert McFarland
The direct heirs of the Dissenters are those in the denomination now known as Reformed Presbyterians. The emphasis upon family unions caused them to be especially active in the Underground Railroad during slavery days.
McFarland is a form of the original MacFarlane. That’s Gaelic. The English translated MacFarlane into Bartholomew.