I really want to encourage each and every one of you to work and speak “into the silence.”
What do I mean by that?
When we document something, write something or make something – we do so alone. Just like I’m doing right this minute. I’m writing “into the silence” because I’m writing on faith that people will read and, fingers-crossed, enjoy and utilize my articles.
Often, we write or create with the hope that some particular person, or persons, will appreciate our endeavors. Maybe we created a loving holiday or birthday gift for someone special.
Or, perhaps, our goal is less specific and more intangible.
Think, for example, of a journal.
Each person who writes in a journal generally isn’t journaling for someone else. If so, the “someone else” is a matter of faith – that they *will* exist someday in the future. Journaling is private and the eventual consumer, if they ever exist, is a byproduct of the journaling process, an accident.
In essence, the diarist is writing into the silence because the future is uncertain. Those future readers may not exist. That journal may not survive.
I ask you to ponder how grateful you would be, today, for your great-grandmother’s journal detailing everyday life in her house and garden. Her trips to the market, how and when she did laundry, did it rain or snow, are the tomatoes ripe, who misbehaved at church, along with her thoughts on what was happening in her life and neighborhood.
Or your great-grandfather’s journal about his time separated from his family while in the military serving his country. Did he serve in the Civil War or in WWI, living in a tent-hospital during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic? What was that experience like on a personal level?
Maybe letters from your ancestor as they made their way to a new country, seasick the entire time, but filled with hope.
What I’d give for any of those!
Today, maybe you’ve created a book about one of your ancestral lines. Or, maybe you took weeks to sort out, assemble, scan, and organize the photos of your grandparents to share with your siblings.
And perhaps no one even bothered to acknowledge your gift or say thank you. Did they even look at them? Do they care, at all?
That would leave anyone somewhat dejected with hurt feelings.
But if you think about it, what you’re really doing is writing, creating, into the silence.
Not their silence today. No, not that.
But the larger silence of time and space that exists between you and future generations. Without your endeavors, they have no opportunity to glimpse today, or your shared past.
This silence – this silence is what connects you. The umbilical cord that links them to their ancestors through you.
That document, or collage, or scrapbook, or quilt – whatever you created out of love will, hopefully, be passed along. A form of prayer on wings – winging its way to the future with a mission of its own.
The person who will most cherish that gift across time, who will love you for it even though they will never meet you, hasn’t yet been born.
So, I encourage you to continue to honor your ancestors, to tell their stories, to document their lives – and your own.
Yes, someone will care.
Speak into the silence by testing your DNA and making sure it’s available for future genealogists. By researching and documenting your ancestral lines. By ensuring that your work is photographed if it’s a quilt or scrapbook. By placing stories and other writing into repositories where they will be available for those listening future generations even if the current generations seem to be stone-cold deaf.
In my case, my 52 Ancestors stories fall into that category. I’ve written one each week for 320 weeks now, more than six years as hard as that is to believe, and I’m no place near finished. I search for the Y and mitochondrial DNA of each ancestor and document discoveries.
I’m planning to compile the articles, by family line, into books. I will probably use a self-publishing platform such as LuLu.com to assure that their stories are available indefinitely. I’ve linked each ancestor’s story to the proper ancestor on my tree at Ancestry and MyHeritage and I’m in the process at WikiTree as well.
I’ll be donating the books, when created, to various local and regional libraries and genealogy/historical societies, along with both the Allen County Public Library and Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Remember that activities, pictures, stories, and memories that seem mundane to you today will be someone else’s goldmine happy-dance one day.
It’s not so much the silence we’re speaking into, but acting to honor the past and present for future generations – on faith that someone “out there” will care. We are being that ancestor who we wish would have left something, anything, telling us about their lives and family. How they felt, what they did, what was transpiring around them.
Especially in difficult and trying times, keep on doing what you’re doing and answering that call.
Be encouraged, take heart, and know that your efforts today will cause your name to be spoken with gratitude long after you’ve left this realm.