A friend of mine gave me the test kit for 23 and Me for Christmas so I could determine my ancestry. The results were exactly what my parents had said all these years. What was new, however, was to be able to attach percentages to the nationalities. Basically, I am Northwestern European – 96.9%. Of that, I am 37% French & German (my dad’s ancestors are from French Netherlands), 31% Irish (my mother’s side), and 8% Scandinavian. I like knowing this. There is a certain sense of belonging when you know where you are from and know a little more of who you are.
The same was true when I found out I was named after my parents’ best friends – Marlyn and Ella. I was to be named either Marla or Ellyn using parts of each of their names. Once I knew this, I felt an even stronger connection to them. They were people of deep faith, integrity and hard work, and I wanted to honor them, as well as my parents, by taking on these attributes myself. It is important to me to strive to live up to my namesakes and ancestors.
Hopefully, we have a strong sense of security in knowing where we are from. In addition to our personal ancestries, we are, more importantly, from the hand of God. St. Ignatius of Loyola summed up our faith in these few words:
“We come from God. We belong to God. We return to God.”
How wonderful to know we existed in the presence of God before our birth and that we head home after this part of life’s journey. Charles Dickens knew this when he wrote about children, “I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” We were all born fresh from the hand of God. A challenge as we age and grow is to not lose the freshness, nor lose our memory of what it means to be made in God’s image and likeness.
It’s spiritually a good practice to take stock of our lives and look at things God might be calling us to leave in the past in order to prepare us for new life. These could also be those things that have caused us to lose some of our “freshness” or God memory. These may have included our quest for power, materialism, or popularity; our need to be right; our apathy or indifference; the burdens we place on ourselves or others; our comfort in staying where we are; our old views of God, others and ourselves; our lack of hope; our relationships we have allowed to die. Letting go of those things that are not of God or are not life giving can be difficult, and yet to do so returns some of the “freshness” of coming from God.
May God continue to open us to new life and memories of coming from Him. Let us commit ourselves more fully to living up to God as our namesake and His presence as our ancestry.