This year I celebrated Dia De Los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) and for the first time, I really sat and thought about my ancestors and what they'd been through. Somewhere, recently (this happens to me all the time... I hear something really profound, ponder it slowly for days/weeks/months and then when I try to tell the story I can't remember where I first heard it! Gah!)... I heard/read that just by virtue of the fact that we are here we have an unbroken line of parentage (first I focussed on my matrilineal line, then patrilineal, then a funny energetic "choice" line back... I'll get back to that). When I pondered that unbroken line, I realized that there was something that these people had that allowed them to survive, to nurture their children (at least some of whom also survived, since I'm here), and to adapt to whatever situations they moved through in their lives. My ancestors were pioneers. And while most of my life I'd focussed on the things about them that I didn't appreciate, like, or agree with... this was paradigm shifting for me to consider them as having strengths.
I don't have a lot of information about the lives of my ancestors... not the details of daily life, anyway... so I imagined how it might have been. My kids are in 2nd and 4th grades, so I have learned a bit about the pioneers through them... and hearkening back to my days in college when I took a history class on Early Colonial America... I made up my own story. And lo and behold I understood a little more about their strengths, sacrifices, and the spirit they must have had to have survived and even thrived. Now, I'm not going to condone all pioneer behavior or anything... I was just thinking about individuals. I felt their fortitude, persistence, and love of their children. I felt their strength being summoned within for mere survival. I imagined cold Mid-West winters and their flexibility and adaptation around simply living.
The ancestor I probably feel closest to is my paternal grandmother. She grew up on a farm in Iowa, then raised nine children on a farm with her husband only a few miles away. Though I was still a child when she died, I felt connected to her in a way I can't describe with words. She epitomizes the strengths of the ancestors in general for me. She kept a large garden that fed her family of 11 most of the year. She worked hard, took everything in stride, and still somehow had time to be a devout catholic and fulfill her roles as mother, sister, wife, friend, aunt, and probably midwife (I know her sister came to help her birth her children... I imagine it went both ways).
These are qualities I can be proud to possess... and I am grateful that I come from such a line of loving individuals who were committed to working together to make things better. They had their own version of that dream... and I have mine.
I'm an explorer of inner realms, a pattern observer, and an invitation maker. I believe that healing the world starts within.
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