“Behind me are all my ancestors giving me strength. Life passed through them until it reached me. And in honor of them, I will live it fully.” —Bert Hellinger
I love this sentiment…that I’m the inheritor of a continuous stream of life coursing through countless others, a force which ultimately connects us all, if we only go back far enough.
Who were the humans before me from whom I inherited my very existence? I don’t know them, yet I still know something about them.
I know that they were people of deep faith, fleeing their Germanic homeland from persecution as Mennonite conscientious objectors, first to Russia and then to America. They were hard-working, introducing hard red winter wheat to the American prairie, transforming it into the bread basket of the world.
They were optimistic, trusting all of their hope and limited resources to a months-long voyage toward a new life in a new land, knowing they would never again see their families or birthplaces left behind in England and Ireland.
They were risk-takers, bundling my great-grandfather—then a newborn infant—into their wagon as they raced to stake a claim in Oklahoma’s Great Land Rush in 1889.
They were fun-loving, as evidenced by my Great-Grandpa “Red” Kelley’s ability to dance an Irish jig and his children’s love of laughter. Many of his great-great-great grandchildren also share his red hair.
They were all obviously resilient. Simply surviving this hard life and raising children to adulthood is evidence of that.
What do I owe them? I owe them survival, just as they managed. I owe them protection of the life I inherited from them in the form of raising my children. And I honor them by displaying the same traits they demonstrated which allowed me to exist at all. I will, indeed, live my life fully.