If you’re able, take ten minutes and go through some old family photo albums. After my mother and father died, my brother and I inherited three large cases of photographs from our family and extended family going back to my grandparents. Also included were a few photos of relatives I never met going all the way back to my GGGGrandfather in his Confederate Calvary Uniform.
As I go through pictures, memories pour through my mind and experience an overwhelming feeling a love–their presence rekindled and gratitude for their love fills my heart.
I often recall some of the challenges they faced–some of which they told stories about: World War I, the 1918-19 Flu pandemic, The Great Depression, rationing, World War II and others. Their stories reflected the courage they exhibited in their time and place and they did not seem to be the worse for wear for all the challenges they experienced–I always sensed strength from them. I remember some of my relatives being at church with us when I was young, giving gratitude to and strength from God for the life that had been given them.
When I returned for the second time two years ago to bury my parents, it happened to be during All Saints. St. Paul’s where I grew up has long tapestries hung between the stained glass windows with every name back to 1837 who was buried from the church. Many friends, uncles, aunts and other names I knew were listed. And I felt surrounded by something bigger than myself–something we call The Communion of Saints. I remember Bishop Bailey speaking of the Communion of Saints (“who are just folk like me” as the hymn goes) whose presence comforted him. They had run their perspective races–not perfectly mind you, but faithfully and blessed me, my brother and Creation with their gifts.
So if you feel somewhat disconnected by this COVID nuisance, get out the family album. Tell some stories. Our family histories, as a part of the salvation history of God are still very much alive. Jesus said that God is not the God of the dead but of the living. I don’t know about you, but I can feel it.
Remember your salvation history and notice how thanksgiving begins to build in your hearts.