Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Interconnected Web

I know that I am lucky to know of the ancestors of mine that came to America on the Mayflower. I am lucky to have names and histories that trace back that far on my father’s side of the family and I am grateful for the knowledge. Years ago, I met a woman who could trace her family back to the Mayflower also, and she revealed she was descended from the children born of Francis Eaton and Christian Penn. So however many generations have occurred and spider-webbed outward since 1620, we knew that 390 years ago, we shared a common person of interest. It really does put things into perspective, and it spurred a thought in me that would be the seed for the journey I’ve been taking.

In my mind’s eye, I visualize a map of the country I live in. And I wonder what pattern would spread across the map if you could make every person who was in any way descended from Francis and Sarah Eaton light up on the map like it were a Lite Brite. What mini constellation would appear if you widen it to include any descendent of Francis Eaton? How fast would that pattern multiply and spread? And I could take it one step further and light up every descendent of anyone who came over on The Mayflower. How many of us would there be, living and breathing in this country, who trickled down from that one voyage?

In my head I spin a thin filament of light and connect those glowing pinpoints together, watching the weave come to life, stretching across the land. When the web is holding itself taut, I search the rest of the globe for those who have descended from a pilgrim and travelled back across the land or waters, for that has surely happened a few times over. I see a web of life, grown from a few seeds of hope, from an action of great change that a handful of people had the courage to embrace. And this web that shimmers in my vision, and glitters in the starlight above me, also road maps within this body that holds me.

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand,
you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors.
All of them are alive in this moment.
Each is present in your body.
You are the continuation of each of these people.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

For me, this idea translates out. I think of the clothes I wear. Someone packaged that garment up and shipped it to the store I bought it from. Someone sewed the garment that was packaged. Someone cut the garment that was sewn. Someone patterned the pieces that were cut. Someone created the design of the garment. Someone wove the fabric that was cut. Someone spun the threads that wove the fabric. Someone picked the fiber that was spun into thread. Someone tended the crop of fiber. Someone planted the seeds that grew. Someone cultivated the beds for planting. Think of how many hands touched your clothes and how many lives were dependent upon the creation of those clothes to put food on their tables and feed their children?

At some point, our connections transcend bloodlines. All ancestors are our ancestors. All descendents are our descendents, and they look to us to show them how to care for this world. At some point, we have to stop thinking about what kind of world our ancestors shaped for us and focus on how we can shape it into a better version for those who will call us ancestors someday.

Giving Gratitude at the Holiday Season
‘Tis the season for charity, and what better way to “be the change you wish to see in the world” than by spreading some anonymous cheer? Look into collecting and/or donating supplies to your local food kitchen. Donate gifts to Toys for Tots so that on Christmas morning, some child will have a bit of holiday magic they would have been without. Also, if you want to make sure it goes to a family in need, you can check with local churches organizing and collecting for low-income families who might not otherwise have a holiday and ask what they need.

Regardless of your personal religious persuasion, Catholic Charities is a worthy and well-reputed organization that does a lot of programming of benefit to our local community. If you have $20 to spare, you can buy a flock of chickens (or other animals, with prices going up) for a family through Heifer International. It’s one of the presents we give ourselves every year, donating in honor of someone we know. This year we donated a flock of ducks and a share of rabbits. It’s the kind of gift that feeds the soul.

Gratitude links:

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