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The Faces Of Our Ancestors: A Moment With Bill Reflection
They Are Always with Me
They are always with me.
Silently in the night they come to me, bidding me hello, wrapping their arms around me in an ethereal embrace every bit as real as the corporeal one of years gone by. They whisper in my ear as sleep approaches, murmur to me as sleep envelopes me, and even during my waking hours I can hear them urging me on, advising me and imploring me to never give up the fight.
Their faces are forever etched on the tintypes of my mind. The ruggedly handsome face of my father, the smile of my mother, the chiseled, grizzled look of Uncle Jim and the perpetual fear in the eyes of Uncle Mike; my sister’s smile, my grandmother’s curls and my great-aunt’s toothless grin; all there to review, learn from and enjoy at a moment’s notice.
And so it is with all of us, and in a very real sense we are all related, all progeny of an original tribe, offspring upon offspring in a constant flow of begetting, the ever-growing family of human beings.
Look in the faces of those who came before you. Do you see yourself there?
Look at their faces.
No shrinking violets here my friends. These are people who had a goal and by sheer force of will and determination made that goal happen. To have a better life. To have better opportunities. In truth, to boldly go where few had gone before.
Go west young man, go west, and while you are at it, say goodbye to family, friends, the only home you have ever known, and face months of agonizing travel through some of the most inhospitable land man has ever traversed. How to get there? Follow the sun, day in, day out, come rain or sleet or snow or tornado or windstorm….and do it on foot, 2000 miles, beat back the hunger, pray against cholera and thirst and a hundred other possible tragedies that patiently await our intrepid travelers.
Look at their faces. There is no joy there; nor is there self-pity. What there is is the kind of backbone, gut-wrenching, spit in the face of the devil grittiness that understands that rewards do not come to those unwilling to face risks. What there is is a spirit that refuses to retreat, refuses to surrender and refuses to settle for the status quo.
Those are your ancestors. Look at their faces.
Look at their faces.
Try this the next time you are bored and in need of stimulation. Travel to the interior of Alaska, hundreds of miles from the nearest settlement. You carry only what is on your back and you begin a new life. With an axe you level the forest; with a plow you cultivate the earth. You build a home, by hand, and survive on the crops that you raise, one eye on the skies in hopes that nature will provide this year, and the next, and the next.
In need of medical assistance? Tough it out! In need of luxuries? Forget about it! In need of companionship? None exists!
Impossible you say? Think again, for our lifestyle today was built upon the backs of those ancestors who did exactly that. We have no idea today…we have no stinking clue what these people went through, and yet their blood flows through our blood and their faces reflect the same DNA as ours.
Look at their faces. Do you see it? Are you facing your own obstacles? Find the solution within, for all that you need was given to you hundreds of years ago. Those are your ancestors. Look at their faces.
The perfect song for this message
Look around you
- Super Heroes In Today's Society
Heroes are among us in every walk of life. With quiet determination they make us all better people through their living examples.
The thousand-yard stare, a familiar phrase to those who have been in battle. Take a farm boy from Iowa and transport him to a killing field and you will see the thousand yard stare. Take a shop clerk from Pennsylvania or Worcester or Dublin, and drop him in a foxhole thousands of miles from home, as the bullets nearly miss and the smell of death blankets the air, and more than likely you will see the thousand yard stare.
It is the stare of a man, or woman, who has come to realize that life hangs by the barest of threads, that the difference between seeing loved ones again and becoming a statistic can be measured in millimeters or seconds. It is the stare of one who is suddenly face to face with mortality and yet still manages to climb out of that foxhole on demand and race into the line of fire.
I have heard it said that there are no atheists in a foxhole; I might also add there are no cowards there as well. Only human beings and they are your ancestors.
Look at their faces.
Do you have a caregiver in your family?
Let us not forget that life is not just exploration, facing danger and defying odds. In every society, since the beginning of civilization, there have been those who sought only to help others. The nurses, the doctors, the social workers and the clerics, tirelessly giving aid and comfort to those in need; risking their own lives so that others might find peace; look at their faces and try to find yourself.
In every war zone you can find them. At every catastrophe and every emergency and every moment of pain you can find them. They are there with a touch, a word of companionship, a bridging of any gaps that may exist between us, for they understand that at our core we are all the same, and every single person will one day be in need of empathy.
They were there during the French Revolution and they were there during the American Civil War. They gave aid at Yorktown and they gave aid in Rwanda and Joplin, Missouri. They are the hospice workers and the missionaries, the medics and the food bank volunteers, and you can count their riches in the smiles they receive rather than in the salary paid.
They are your ancestors. Look at their faces. Do you see yourself?
They Are Always with You
Look at that quotation…..”lost in the wilderness because they would not stop to ask for directions”…..there are days when I wonder if the entire human race is lost. Two hundred years from now, what will historians say about our generation? We give clever names to generations….the Baby Boomers, the Me Generation, Generation Y and Generation Z….but what of our character? What are our values as displayed in our actions as a society because let’s face it, actions speak infinitely louder than words. What do we say to the future by the way we conduct our lives?
Are we lost? All we need do is ask for directions, and who better to ask than our ancestors? If we are in short supply of determination and willingness and courage and compassion, ask what our ancestors would do. If we find ourselves lacking in empathy, spirit and moral character, ask what our ancestors would do.
They are not far from us. They steal visits every night. Look in their faces….do you see them? Do you see the answers that have eluded you for so long? That have eluded us for so long?
They are here now. Look at their faces.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”