Recently I attended what I have called “A Cousins Reunion.” Five of our 8 cousins (along with three spouses and one cousins son) met out in West Texas in a little town named Quanah. None of us have ever lived there as we all grew up in and around Washington, DC, but our maternal grandparents met there in 1911. What was fun about getting together in this little town was that it gave us an opportunity to not only to be where they met and to visit their gravesites, but to spend some time telling stories about our family legacy.
Our grandmother lived near us in Washington, DC and as the oldest of the cousins she and I would often travel around the country on the train. It was not only great fun, but it was a chance for her to tell me many, many family stories. So, at our weekend reunion we each told the stories we remembered, how our mother’s and grandmother ended up in Washington, DC at the start of WWII and about all the relatives that had come before us, who they were, what they did and to celebrate the branches of our family tree.
Knowing these stories, sharing them and remembering the rich legacy they have left us was so beautiful. As we visited the cemetery in Quanah we told stories of those whose gravestones we saw. Seeing these markers sparked our memories and soon we were off recalling the things that shaped their lives and that would eventually shape ours as well. They were all people of strong faith, active in their churches with some members leading the music, and even a preacher here and there to add spice. The local historical society even found a church bulletin from April of 1912 in which two of our great aunts were listed, as choir director and pianist. That was a real thrill. Our great-grandfather had founded that church and today it still exists, although in a beautiful newer building.
I think what I learned from this the most is that we each come from a tradition and legacy that has in many ways helped to shape our lives today. What our ancestors gave to us is not necessarily a life we choose to copy, but it has been for each of us a jumping off point from which we can shape our lives today. Our grandparents had their jumping off point from what they had experienced, and we now have ours. What we choose to do from this moment on is up to us.
Where do any of us we wish to go from here? It is no surprise that each of the cousins is very different today, just as in many ways we are similar. The family sense of humor is very much alive within us; as well as music and, yes, a preacher. (That would be me).
We each get to decide, and that goes for you who are reading this as well, how we choose to process the traditions and legacy from which we have come. Like it or not that is our family DNA. We will carry this whether we like it or not. This may be our jumping off point, but we have understood and received that birthright in many different ways and we will each go forth to our next endeavors with different expressions of life. Just as with a GPS device we can recalculate our journey and forge exciting new paths for ourselves through our positive, life affirming desires. We can let go of any negative influences, make the conscious choice that we will not allow those things to taint our present and future and we can chart new journeys that forge an exciting life.
We will always be connected with what has come before us, and that is meaningful.
Yes, there are always things that may be unpleasant, or painful, but how we process those experiences and how we proceed forward today need not emulate the negative, but can certainly help us to make better choices now.
I know each cousin will have something exciting and new to bring to our next gathering, and I do hope there is one. I can’t wait.
We each and every one of us have a core make-up that provides a rich place from which we can build community. My cousins and I have a core DNA that binds us together, however, all of God’s beautiful humanity also comes from a common place.
We are each spiritual beings, created in the image and likeness of Perfect Spirit/God. Presently we are having a human experience, but at our core we are, and can only ever be, spiritual beings. The DNA of Perfect Creative Spirit that is first and foremost the foundation of who we are unites us all as fellow travelers who are seeking a rich and meaningful human experience. When we remember to move forward in life from this place of spiritual kinship with one another, with the whole of humanity, we come a long way in helping to co-create a world of peace, justice and togetherness in which we all would hope to live. Seeing Spirit within others, as they see Spirit within us, is what will build a future of reconciliation, unity and community.
Rev. Jefferson Beeker
We live our lives one thought at a time. Let each of those thoughts really count for something wonderful.
Be prepared to change your thinking and change your life.
Follow me on Twitter @jeffersonbeeker for daily affirmations of uplifting and positive faith.