|Raglan Castle, Monmouth, Wales|
Grandparent-hood, I've decided, is a form of resurrection. The world is re-created from the perspective of a very small person. Watching the assembling of a life gives me reason to keep contributing towards the future, restores my belief in Good and Possiblity (Sandboxes and Resurrections). And Grandparent-hood means my DNA is out there, physically being born, over and over. (Or at this point, just "over." Get going, kids). It means that body / soul, past / present are contributing to a Future. And, just as important in timeflow, children are because the past was.
Recently I found another kind of resurrection--geneaology. The Connection Resurrection, I call it. The Old Testament books of Chronicles I and II, and all the genealogical lists in the Old/New Testament, list: ancestors. Specifically enlightening in my newest theological interest has been the nifty website: www.ancestry.com I plugged into information and stories and family like I never knew before. Bingo, jackpot, Eyes Wide Open, Research Heaven, Mormon Geneaological Library, Marriage/Death/ Birth Certificates, Census rolls, photographs, stories. It's official:
To a long list of DNA. To a slew of ancestors. Ancestors who have always been there, and ever will be. Theres no denying them. They are Me. I found a distant (living) relative while googling my father's family name. He casually opened a door for me which will never close. I know where I (parts of me) came from. I infer from the sheer mass of forebears I found that the odds are good I'll go to somewhere (parts of my DNA will). I'm a little nexus of my personal little eternity. I am drowned in an ocean of Others Who Are Me. Looking Backward and Forward (to descendants now forming), I am Not Alone.
This is a good place to thank iconic American author Thornton Wilder (Our Town) for illustrating this idea in his book Theophilus North. In a very small part of the story, Wilder wrote about an archaeology student who, on a summer intern dig in Italy, had helped uncover an ancient Roman road. The student recalled finding the paved road, covered by centuries of earth. He thought about the thousands of travelers on that road, who had purpose and destinations and cares and joys, and who were now long dead. The student's comment in the book was that, after that moment, he never again feared death. All of the people in the world who had died before him, suddenly became real to him. He became part of them. Life and Death became seamless.
Ancestors do that. Through that distant (living) relative dug up on Google, I unearthed 500 years of a family who survived, suffered, found love /hate/joy/pain and did everything weak little humans do. And who--to a man and to a woman and to a child--died. This is liberating. All those people whose existence points right down to me--and to any who come after me. I am grateful. I am awed. Two important components of religion.
The Old Testament chronicles, cultures that revere lineage, ancestor worship: looking beyond metaphor, I get it. They have died, and I exist. Inclusive patterning.