Have you ever watched that show Who Do You Think You Are? If you aren’t familiar with this, it is a show where a celebrity gets help in tracking down their ancestry through records like old censuses, marriage, birth and death records.
This past weekend, despite everything else I had on my to-do list, I decided to get on ancestry.com. Since I am not a celebrity and this is real life, I had to do my own research. Within an hour of doing this, I was absolutely riveted and maybe more than a little obsessed. It felt like being inside a compelling mystery novel, except it was real and these were MY people and I could see their actual handwriting and feel their presence. I spent almost an entire day and night glued to the computer. I found where other relatives I have never even met posted pictures of great and great-great grandparents.
I even found copies of draft cards from worldwar I and II. I especially wanted to get as much detailed information as I possibly could about where my families came from in Ireland in hopes to visit those places where my ancestors lived and died and maybe even meet some distant relatives that still live there. Still, I learned a couple important things about myself. One: finding credible leads from the mid 1800’s in another country can be very confusing and time consuming. Two: after all the discoveries I made, I came to remember the most important thing of all, while it can feel beautiful and healing to walk the same land where many of my ancestors come from, at the end of the day, we have to be careful about over identifying with any particular group that separates us, making us take on an us vs. them mentality. After all, do we honestly believe one race, class, or gender or creed is better than another? Do we really think God sees us differently?
It can be fun to find belonging in a particular group, but I think it’s important that we place more of an emphasis on how much we are all the same and that we are all equal. I think the most important thing we can strive to be above all else is LOVE. So when I am in Ireland for 10 days this month, I MIGHT try to find time away from my tour group to visit a gravesite or two, but generally I plan to bask in some much need vacation time in a beautiful country and just practice being as close to divine love as I can. It’s a good goal to have no matter who we think we are.
Jennifer Bothast, COTA Moosehaven/Rehab Director