Friday, April 15, 2005


I've noticed that dad's side of the family always seemed infused with mystery while my mom's side seemed to have much less mystery.

Mom's side came to Ohio because a famine in Ireland in 1846 caused our ancestors to choose between death and America. No contest. No mystery why they came.

But with my dad's side it's shadier. We don't know why they left Germany, or even where James Smith came from. James Smith is like Melchizedek - we don't know where he came from or why or when he left. His story is mystery personified, but there's more mystery where that came from.

When I was a kid the film "Roots" got me interested in genealogy. I started, naturally, with my four grandparents and realized if not for the first time how odd it was to have only three living grandparents. As I got older the loss only felt greater because you can know yourself better if you know your parents, and you can know your parents better if you know their parents. And I never knew her. Even her name was foreign to me. While "Margaret" tripped easily off the tongue, I had to remember to pray for "Ruth".

My wife says I care more for the dead than the living but I always look at it more as reverence for those who have passed on and experience what we only long for - the presence of God. And the dead have the advantage of growing greater in hindsight. But how much greater can someone grow whom I never knew! Hence I imagine Ruth as a bright spot in the heavenly firmament.

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