As a child, I had a great-aunt who was quite fond of researching family history. I remember visiting her home, and she would entertain us with stories of American history and ancestors long gone. One time I remember her pulling out deeds to family land going back over 150 years. I enjoyed history anyway, but this really brought it home to me.
I don’t have as much time as I would like, but I do enjoy researching genealogy when I have the opportunity. There is something in finding these records of scholars, pastors, farmers, mothers and fathers long gone that makes me feel connected to place and to history. And sometimes one gets a glimpse across time of faith moving through a family in letters praising God for the birth of a long-awaited child or in prayers written for a son off at war.
For reasons known only to himself, a several times great uncle of mine had a very worn copy of the hymn “Bringing in the Sheaves” stored lovingly in the cedar box where he kept his watch and a photograph of his wife. Obviously he treasured the song, and in my mind’s eye, I can almost imagine him singing as he worked on his land.
Most of my ancestors did not leave comprehensive diaries of their lives, so it is difficult to know much about what they were like as people. However, these bits and pieces of life one finds can illuminate parts of their stories and for many, there is a love of family and a deep faith in God that shines through, and I cannot help but hope that I can live in such a way that future generations may see this in me as well.