Knit Together or Frayed: A Poem about Relatives

Close can be comfortable
and close can be uncomfortable.
Knit together in our mother’s wombs,
we emerge and…
the fabric of the family holds us tight.
Loved and cherished from a young age,
we feel close-knit and strongly supported.
Or the opposite.
Abused, neglected or abandoned in childhood,
we can feel frayed at the edges,
unravelled at key points,
at loose ends in the world. 

The wider family is a similar mystery,
offering comfort and discomfort,
sometimes in equal measure.
The loving uncle who is always there for you,
the aunt with the nasty racist comments,
the happy family reunions,
the feuding cousins who never speak,
the children who visit or don’t visit,
the words that are spoken or not spoken.
Even the dead relatives refuse to rest,
haunting or blessing our memories. 

We come to God with different prayers,
some saying thank you for a good and perfect gift from above,
others looking for deliverance, and a freedom from heavy burdens.
Satisfied or swamped, the question for us all is exactly the same,
whispered every day in our ear by a God who loves us;
“What kind of relative will you be today?”

New Book Coming Soon!

Carol Penner has written a devotional book for Lent that explores the challenges of repentance and forgiveness. Forty reflections and prayers to deepen your walk with God as you prepare for Easter.  

You can order it here!

About Carol Penner

I am a Mennonite pastor currently teaching theology at Conrad Grebel University College in Waterloo, Ontario. I’ve served congregations in Ontario and most recently, Alberta.

I love to write and to lead worship! If you are finding my writing helpful, I would love to hear from you! Feel free to use or adapt the material here, it is all written by me. If printing material, please credit “Copyright Carol Penner” (and say whether you modified it). If publishing, please contact me for permission. Contact me at

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