I don’t have any family legends that qualify as a ghost story. I thought I would share these cartoon images from Bil Keane’s Family Circus that many of us may remember.
Doing genealogy always involves interacting with the spirits of our ancestors. The more we learn about them, the more we are able to flesh out these ghostly remains. The Native American writer and poet Linda Hogan wrote about this and I want to give you the gift of her words:
Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World by Linda Hogan
(This is a book excerpt on Listening from https://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/book-reviews/excerpts/view/23701)
“Sometimes I hear it talking. The light of the sunflower was one language, but there are others more audible. Once, in the redwood forest, I heard a beat, something like a drum or heart coming from. the ground and trees and wind. That underground current stirred a kind of knowing inside me, a kinship and longing, a dream barely remembered that disappeared back to the body. Another time, there was the booming voice of an ocean storm thundering from far out at sea, telling about what lived in the distance, about the rough water that would arrive, wave after wave revealing the disturbance at center.
“Tonight I walk. I am watching the sky. I think of the people who came before me and how they knew the placement of stars in the sky, watched the moving sun long and hard enough to witness how a certain angle of light touched a stone only once a year. Without written records, they knew the gods of every night, the small, fine details of the world around them and of immensity above them.
Walking, I can almost hear the redwoods beating. And the oceans are above me here, rolling clouds, heavy and dark, considering snow. On the dry, red road, I pass the place of the sunflower, that dark and secret location where creation took place. I wonder if it will return this summer, if it will multiply and move up to the other stand of flowers in a territorial struggle.
“It’s winter and there is smoke from the fires. The square, lighted windows of houses are fogging over. It is a world of elemental attention, of all things working together, listening to what speaks in the blood. Whichever road I follow, I walk in the land of many gods, and they love and eat one another. Walking, I am listening to a deeper way. Suddenly all my ancestors are behind me. Be still, they say. Watch and listen. You are the result of the love of thousands.”
I added the emphasis in the last paragraph. This is what it means to be a genealogist. We watch and listen and reveal the love that created us.