remember how i said on monday that i was focusing on the value + emphasis that native americans put on families? well, i truly have been thinking about family a lot this week – it’s amazing how the universe seems to flow, connecting + bringing forth the exact things that you need, when you need them. in other words, timing often seem serendipitous as life unfolds moment by moment. well, this week i’ve been pondering the ups + downs of family. the sizes of family. the definition of family. belonging, history, land, and much more…
personally, i have a fairly small family. two parents. one sibling. three cousins. two aunts. two uncles. and my amazing wife. of course, i have her family – which is huuuuuge. but, right now, i am talking about my closest blood relations. it’s a small clan. and while we may be close, we are quite spread out. my parents + brother are nearby, however. in any case, i have never had this really big, loud, crazy family. however, my family is loud + crazy + unique (in a good way). it’s just that there are not that many of us. which, could be seen as a negative (and sometimes i wish for a big family).
however, when i think back to all of the grants (my mother’s maiden name) and reynolds who have gone before me… when i trace my roots all the way back to scotland + england in the 1600s, i realize that my family is quite large. i have a great number of people who are with me, if not physically present, then spiritually or emotionally. and that, is extremely inspiring.
the other day, i went to visit my parents for the afternoon. just to hang out – and to help my dad with some computer things. but, before i arrived at their house, i took the long way through their “neighborhood” in order to pass by some places that hold special meaning to me.
you see, my granddad, who died when i was 11, was a minister/pastor. he had a house up here in these mountains where we would vacation during the summers and holidays. i never lived up here during my childhood, but i have so many memories of this place. summers at the pool. feeding the ducks. walking on the lake when it was frozen in the winter. weekends in the fall. thanksgivings + christmases. i remember sitting with my grandparents on their front porch, chatting with the people as they walked by. playing cards with my grandmother. watching the fireworks over the lake on the 4th of july.
and, later in life, when i was in college and my grandparents were long gone, i remember coming “home” to this place for holidays since my parents and my brother moved here. at one point, in my previous marriage, i lived in a house here for a short time, calling it home. and then, after meeting lina, i brought her here – to share with here the beauty + magic of this place. we got engaged at this lake on christmas eve 6 years ago.
all of this to say, i do not call this home. but, it is engrained in my history. this place is a member of my family. it reminds me of who i have been + from where i have come. it has imprinted its beauty on my soul.
growing up, when i traveled here for the summer, or a weekend, or a holiday with my family, we always arrived at the lake and took the “long way” in… as i did the other day. we crossed over a rickety wooden bridge and then ascended a big hill, arriving at the base of this cross, which looks out over the lake (see the first photo in this post – that is the view from beside this cross). my dad always made me + my brother get out, no matter the weather or the time of year or time of day. and here, standing at the base of this cross, we had our picture taken. there are photos of me with my brother, some with my dad, some with my mom, and some with my grandparents. it’s a tradition that lasted year after year. and one i will always cherish. even to this day…
on this day, i took a picture of myself, as i was alone up there at the cross. but, i did not feel alone. i felt the company of my family – of all of the people who have come + gone in my life, blood-related or not. i felt inspired, blessed, lucky, and at peace. feelings that always creep up in me and settle in my soul whenever i stand or sit right here. so many memories. so many feelings. so much to be thankful for, as i look back over the past 40 years + wonder what the next 40 years will bring.
as tempting as it has always been to simply stay right here, wrapped up in the safety + the memories of this place, i know that the story continues. we cannot stay in the same places, doing the same things. we can carry on traditions + revisit + remember, but time marches on. change always happens. so, it’s up to me to welcome that change + see the road ahead as another great adventure, or to stay stuck where i am, or worse yet, only yearning for the past (which i most certainly do not do. hehe.)
come what may, we cannot stay in the same place, repeating the same story. we may not know what lies ahead, but with confidence we can be sure that, as long as we stay true to our selves, the universe will continue to guide us as our lives unfold, moment by moment.
it’s up to me to continue my story. to not forget about the stories of the past + simply move on, but to continue to write the story of my ancestors. for wherever i go, whatever i do, they always remain with me.
walking i am listening to a deeper way. suddenly all of my ancestors are behind me. be still, they say. watch and listen. you are the result of the love of thousands.
– linda hogan, chickasaw indian.