As I sit here today, eight years last week since my first blog post, I am reflecting back across 366 stories that I wrote about “stuff”. And, this past weekend at church the message to parishioners was about “stuff.”It strikes me that I had initially so very little information about my ancestors beyond my maternal grandparents who were still alive in my early childhood years. Yet, I had collected many vital statistics, facts, and other stuff when I started this blog in 2010. My earliest posts were based on information I manually gathered and documented in 1980 by visiting the National Archives in Washington, DC, and using their Soundex system and microfiche reels of film. Can you sense just how very slow and tedious this process was when I could only devote a portion of one day each weekend to manually viewing census records and other stuff through a microfiche reader? And this is the way my research went for the first 16 years or so.
But, I hoped my posts could breathe life into the stories of my ancestors across many generations by my inclusion of broad descriptions of them during their lifetimes; i.e., their personalities, traits, and intra-family dynamics–their stuff. And my hopes were raised even higher once Ancestry.com launched their site in 1996, and even more so when two years later, Google launched its search engine and even more records were being digitized as the information age moved forward by leaps and bounds. And, equally true, the advent of these technological developments immensely simplified and sped up my research. In some instances, I was able to document and capture moments in history regarding my ancestors’ lifestyles and roles within their communities and also infer probable reactions to their lives’ challenges, successes, and some wartime family losses, injuries, and victimizations. These circumstances were few and far between and most often occurred because my father’s side of the family was originally from ancient England, they were from well-known places, among the upper class, highly educated, and became prominent members of society. And, many of my earliest of ancestors were bold, determined, fearless, and persevered many hardships during their pursuit of freedom, happiness, and other stuff. I feel my life challenges, struggles, and successes pale in comparison to so many who lived 10 or more generations before me. And, I feel our younger generations’ lives that began decades later than mine, will pale in comparison to mine too because of global threats to our health and safety, and, the general crumbling of our quality of family life and other stuff that includes the erosion of commitment to anything or anyone more than one’s self–lacking a perception or desire for a life for the greater good of all, if you will, and a desire for more stuff. And, I could continue on to list many more of today’s trendy lifestyles that are helping to deteriorate at least one or more generations. I wouldn’t say as a rule that our world has turned backward to barbarianism, but we do have some present-day examples on both global and local levels that give us pause and make us wonder, “Why?”. And this kind of stuff deeply saddens me.
When out with two of our teenage grandchildren this past weekend we were chatting while returning home from dinner. There were a couple of instances we reflected back on where we had spent time together when they were younger and some of the “stuff” gave us pause due to angst, embarrassment, or disappointment in how that time together fell short of expectations for one or more of us. This weekend, we could giggle about that stuff. But, within the breaks of our giggles, I spoke up and said, “this was another one of those times when I wish my grandmother, Loretta, and Uncle John, (both died in the 1960s), could have been alive and among us because they would have gotten right into our stuff and set us all back on the straight and narrow path for the good of everyone.
So, if you feel that this post leaves you hanging or wanting more of it, of life, or other stuff, then my mission here has been accomplished. And I will leave you with this last, but not least verse from Matthew 6:21 –
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Hence, let’s not seek stuff on earth that leads us to a life of futility rather seek a life that matters in eternity.