My family is large - ten children and two loving parents. Four of my siblings are married. Two sisters live with their families in the USA (one on the west coast and the other on the east). Another sister lives with her family in the UK, and my eldest brother lives with his family in Jamaica. I also have a sister in Brazil who is attending medical school, but the rest of us live in Jamaica with our parents (although I’m staying with my east coast sister at the moment).
For as long as I can remember, my family has had a monthly All Night Prayer Meeting (ANPM). The program varies from month to month, depending on what’s going on in our lives. It usually involves praise and worship, praying (of course!), sharing the good and bad things that have been happening, confession and conflict resolution. ANPM is a demilitarized zone where you are able to air any grievances you have with any family member (without repercussions) and all parties discuss the discontent until apologies and forgiveness are offered and received. Most ANPMs have been times of renewal, unity and spiritual growth.
As my family has expanded and spread out from Jamaica, not everyone has been able to attend ANPM. However, we hadn’t ever made any serious attempts to have non-locals join in. Even in 2020, when the world moved online for all sorts of gatherings, we continued as we had been before Covid. But this year, for our first ANPM for the year (since we missed January), we decided to put the meeting on Zoom.
And it worked!
All of us were able to join in from our various locations and time zones and we spent a beautiful time together. Even after the meeting was officially closed at about six in the morning, some of us continued to talk until close to eight.
I’m sure that many families have already discovered the benefit that quarantine produced in encouraging online connection, but for me it’s been a case of ‘better late than never’.