Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Burden of My Ancestors

My side of our lopsided, loving, last-ditch-effort-for-the-Lost-Cause family wasn't even speaking English when the War Between the States took place. No indeed, they sounded like the Swedish Chef on the Muppet Show, but of course, television hadn't been thought of yet so they didn't know any better, they just talked that way. They came by that doo-de-doo-de-doo-de-doo all natural-like, a blessing of their many ancestors up there in the frozen north. Ultima Thule and all that. Thor and Odin and all that.

Now that Odin worship thing! Nasty little business. It sure puts me in a humble mode of thought when I realize my ancestors practiced human sacrifice. Sometimes I get the creepiest mental image of people who look a lot like me dead and hanging off an oak tree, or even worse, live and hanging other people who look like my klnd of folks off that same oak tree.

There but for the grace of God go I!

I sure do bless the memory of those early Christians who weren't afraid to speak truth to my probably smelly and menacing ancestors. I bless even more the thought of the first of my ancestors to listen, I bless the moment when the Holy Spirit said, "You, oh smelly and menacing Nordic type, are one of my chosen, one of my elect. I have loved you since the beginning of time, in spite of the smell, in spite of your tendency to raid first and civilize later, in spite of the oak tree and all that dangles there. The sins you are repenting of right now are forgiven, as well as the ones you don't even know to be sins yet. My Son has taken care of them all for you. Come enjoy the pleasures of my Kingdom."

I bow in gratefulness, remembering the oak tree and the burden He has forgiven, the burden of my ancestors.

3 comments:

Barn Cat said...

Laurel,
A VERY good posting, to my mind. Evocative and poetic, it really takes my mind back to my ancestors. I, too, wonder about the very first one in my family to give in to God's irresistible grace. I wonder about that transition in my family, and it fills me with a sense of responsibility to that first Christian in my family.
Somehow, your posting it reminds me of this Norman Rockwell painting

http://www.goodart.org/blog/Rockwell-AFamilyPortrait-1959.jpg

Notice how that surly looking pirate at the bottom becomes the almost stereotypical American boy at the top. It's amazing how God's Providence guides families. Thanks for reminding me of it.

Laurel1861 said...

Yes, Barn Cat, the Norman Rockwell painting is very apropos. We find the worst and the best characters dangling off our family trees (NOT the oak tree, of course).

My cousin took a photo of the baptismal font in Stockholm where my great-great-grandfather was baptized in the 1860s. The font itself dates to the 1600s. Somewhere far beyond that in the mists of Svenska time took place the baptism of the person in my family who first believed. (It being Sweden, I am sure the water was very, very cold!)

I know what you mean about feeling that sense of responsibility. I also know the feeling of having been snatched from the jaws of unimaginable weirdness and death by the Holy Spirit's voice in myself and in my ancestors; the massive sense of relief I feel, and the question, Lord, why me?

God bless you, Barn Cat.

Laurel

David McCrory said...

Good post.
It is true that God sheds His grace on us even in spite of us.

Keep up the good work!