I became used to being called 'sister' in Africa, where that's women are: sisters, regardless of blood ties. That experience stretched my thinking way beyond my own tiny family. I gained a new understanding and appreciation of the friendships I had with other women.
The three I spent the weekend with are really special sisters. Some of us come from families where we have several blood sisters and female cousins (and brothers); others, few. We'd shared life together many years ago and know each other as well as - or better than - we do our own families. We don't want to lose that closeness, so we meet up regularly.
It was so relaxing to back in the heart of 'family' that the stress rolled off me. I had been keeping going with a huge exertion of human strength and prayer. My life hasn't been majorly stressy - no life-shattering events - yet the constant niggle of tiny difficulties had been pressing on me for some time. It was such a relief to be so completely away from work and so engulfed by such unconditional love and acceptance that tiredness then hit me, hard. I spent a lot of time quietly yawning and catnapping!
I had caught up by Sunday, though. And in the meantime we had caught up with each others' lives. We'd shared happiness and grief, laughter and tears, hopes and failures. We reminisced endlessly. We were glad to be together again.