Like Catharine, I too have always felt a heaviness from the past. These people from history who lived and struggled and often found life so difficult, seemed to bring me nothing but dodgy DNA and sob stories. Having your mother tell you, as you sip a glass of innocent vino, that your grandfather was a hopeless alcoholic who died miserable, destitute and alone, and if you didn't pack up the booze pretty quick you would go the same way, never brought me much cheer.
But isn't it always the way? Stories of drama and trauma are so much more fascinating than the truth. What about the quiet strength and good humour of those who lived before? What about the wisdom gleaned from years of simply being alive and experiencing? What about the Love that would have been there, however strangely expressed?
This picture is my beautiful Mother cradling her first born in her arms. This woman's capacity to love her children was beyond question. She was of a time however, and rules were in place which undoubtedly blinkered her outlook on life, but Love she could. She was also wise and knowing, and if she hadn't been so blooming old by the time I came along, I'm sure we would have had many long chats about the meaning of love, life and the hereafter.
But she died while I was too busy with my own children to have much time to listen. She just went one day and that was that. My father lived on another decade, but because we were as oil and water, our communications were not of much substance, which was a shame because I know how clever he really was.
Behind them were people I never knew. All my grandparents were dead before I was born apart from one, my father's mother, and I only met her a couple of times. Victorian and in mourning, she sat on a chair by a heavily draped window and I do not recall her speaking to me at all. She was dressed in heavy black, and in my memory she was absolutely terrifying.
No brothers or sisters on my mother's side, an Aunt who died when I was five, and that was all apart from a distant cousin who lived in Canada. On my father's side there were two sisters - Aunts to me and my brother. Dad didn't get on with them, so we never saw them. Small, isolated little unit we were, and the relatives dead or alive were never spoken about. It was as if they never existed...
But the truth is, they did! And all their lives and experiences, and in some sense their very reason for being, was so that I could live! Quite a thought...
So I have been considering all this.
In many cultures around the world they call on their ancestors for help and guidance. We never do that. We Google instead. In some places they honour their departed with gifts and food and blessings. We don't do that. We dress up like the grim reaper and go trick or treating.
The resonance, the collective thoughts and beliefs of the entire family are in me. Everything they came to know and understand was past down, filtered through the generations, and ultimately came to me. I do not have to accept anything about them I don't want to however. I have my own filters and I have freedom of choice. I can agree to accept their wealth of knowledge and experience and begin to apply it to my own life. Their mistakes don't have to be mine, or those of the next generation. With awareness I believe this information can enhance my life in ways I never dreamed possible.
Behind me, as for all of us, stands our mother and father, and behind them all the generations back to the dawn of time. I believe we have a responsibility to live our lives consciously and to the full. We owe it to them who came before, and we owe it to the little ones to come. We are of this Earth, just as they were, and back to her we all must go, and our task as caretakers must never be ignored.
In this tiny fragment of time which is now, we can ask the Ancestors for their wisdom, truth and love, and I believe when asked they will be delighted to share. After all, without sharing ourselves, what purpose to our life?