I have seen variations of this quoted around the internet. But this week it is really speaking to me. It is weighing on me. It is filling me with purpose. It is putting pressure on an already busy life. It is reminding me that I am the chosen.
I have been given boxes, bags, cartons, files, books, photos – an enormous quantity of family treasures. I am the family genealogist. I am the family researcher, the family storyteller, the family archivist. And I love it. I cherish it. I honor it. I respect the import of what I have been asked to do.
But some days, I wonder how I will ever finish the genealogy tasks before me. Then this sweet reminder whispers to my soul that this is not a to-do list. It is a calling. Somewhere along the line I was chosen to do this. And I will do it the very best I can. I will study, preserve, digitize, research, organize, archive, share, teach, tell, and cherish. I will pass on what I have and know to whomever is chosen in the next generation to carry on the great work of telling our family’s story.
We are the chosen.
In each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again. To tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.
Doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes. Those who have gone before us cry out to us: Tell our story. So, we do. In finding them, we somehow find ourselves.
How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors, “You have a wonderful family; you would be proud of us.” How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.
It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who I am, and why I do the things I do. it goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying – I can’t let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it.
It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish. How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.
It goes to deep pride that the fathers fought and some died to make and keep us a nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us. It is of equal pride and love that our mothers struggled to give us birth, without them we could not exist, and so we love each one, as far back as we can reach. That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are they and they are the sum of who we are.
So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family. It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take my place in the long line of family storytellers. That is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and restore the memory or greet those who we had never known before.
by Della M. Cummings Wright; Rewritten by her granddaughter Dell Jo Ann McGinnis Johnson; Edited and Reworded by Tom Dunn, 1943.
I tried to find the original source of this work and could not. I finally just went with this version and this source that leads nowhere specific. Regardless of when it was written and who wrote it, the words ring true to my genealogists heart. If you have better sourcing, please share!
14 thoughts on “We Are the Chosen Quote”
So very true for me as well.
It’s a nice connection we share Amy, the kindred spirits of genealogists. 🙂
I feel called to work on my family history, too. But in all things if it is truly a spiritual calling it will not overwhelm or unbalance your life. It will bring light and answers, not confusion. It also will never ever take ascendancy over present responsibilities or the nurturance and observance of one’s spiritual development. I think there is a fine line we walk when fulfilling this role.
It is very satisfying to find that missing link, to answer a question, to discover a lost cousin. But the line between fulfilling the call and sinking into egotism is very thin, especially when tired or pulled into other directions in our lives.
This Easter Sunday, take a break and honor the One from whom all answers come and all callings are assigned. Take a day off. It is a day to rest and rejoice. Happy Eastet!
So true! We had a lovely Easter yesterday full of rest, worship, and family. I hope your day was equally lovely EmilyAnn.
Your words are so full of wisdom. But I do have to say that the slightly OCD/planner part of me can tip the scales of focus and balance pretty easily if I’m not careful. It’s not that it’s any less of a calling for me, just my own human weakness tripping me up and that’s when I have to take a breath and remind myself where this calling comes from and why it is important. Plus, I just like to get things done. I love checking off a list and genealogy – while aided by lists and organization – isn’t about the list. It’s really about hearts.
Amberly, Thanks for receiving the comment in the spirit intended. Wow, after I sent it I was so worried it’d be misunderstood. Something you’d written here resonated with me on a deep level and maybe I could see you get like me: a woman on a mission, an investigator solving a mystery, a traveler on a journey. That drive is great but it can run away with itself. I don’t know how you do this, you have such a high output. Well, good for you, though, because you’re fulfilling the calling!
Yes! You are seeing into my heart and speaking my words right back to me. 🙂
I have really picked up my pace because there is so much to do. Thankfully I’m a stay at home mom with a VERY independent four year old who loves quiet play time so I can usually sneak in an hour or so each day during the day and then my big boys love basketball and don’t care if I don’t watch it with them so I often get an hour or two in the evening after the little guy is in bed. I’m trying to make really good use of that time because I know my season will change before I know it and my time will be allotted differently.
And we have to hope that someone continue the work when we are gone.
YES! I would love it if it were one of my own children… 🙂
Yes, how can we get more of our cousins and family members and children interested?!
That is actually something I’m going to post about next week! 🙂
Oh how true that paragraph about visiting graves is for me. I live not too far from a g-g-g-grandmother’s grave, and I go there frequently to talk to her. Sometimes I pack a lunch. And I do say to her, “You’d be so proud of your offspring.” I stand near her marker, or kneel to clean out weeds, and I start listing them off to her. And I always share my excitement with her when I discover a new branch of the family. Yes, yes, yes, how very true all those paragraphs are. I love what you said: It is not a to-do list. Someone will come forward after we are gone and continue the work, for it’s not really “our work”. It’s a river flowing from the beginning of time until the end of time. We’re just the ones who are allowed to work on it for a short while
So true! Your words are so wise. I’m glad you have that connection with your ggggrandmother. It makes what we do so much more special.