I stood on the windy hill and looked down at the old farmhouse, the barn, the fields, and on beyond to the long stretch of Appalachian Mountains. I was standing in a small family cemetery surrounded by modest tombstones that had cracked and tilted over the years.
This land had been farmed by my family for over two centuries; my ancestors were buried in these graves. I bent down and read: Samuel Oberholtzer Meyer. That would be great-great-great-grandfather. I tried to read other tombstones but the old German was barely legible.
Who were these people of my blood? What were their lives like? What did they love, and what did they live by? I wished I could travel back in time and interview them.
As I stood there, trying to look into the past and see more than dim outlines of ancestors moving away from me, I suddenly discovered my vision had reversed itself, and I faced the opposite direction. I am an ancestor, too! I have descendants! Will someone one day look at my name and wonder who Nancy Meyer Bieber really was? What did she love, and what did she live by?
I decided to meet with a quartet of my descendants and invite them to ask me questions. A few weeks ago, these descendants (also known as granddaughters) and I plopped on a big bed, they with long hair, long legs, and irrepressible energy, and we began.
This favorite foursome (aged 12 to 15) live far from each other, but when they are together they have splendid adventures. I remember watching four little girls splashing in a bathtub. A few years later, they were hiking in the Rockies, then snorkeling among the Galapagos Islands. I remember them zooming downhill on a zipline, and also dressed in their best for an afternoon tea party (complete with fake British accents) for which they had baked and iced all morning. Now they’d gathered to question Oma.
I promised I’d answer a couple of their questions here and create a blog reflection for them. Of course I was asked “who was your first boyfriend?” but I’m skipping that and going for the big ones.
What message do you have for us, Oma?
Keep on learning your whole life.
Remember to play.
Pause, take in, and enjoy God’s amazing world.
You come from family who lived with integrity and truth.
Continue the tradition.
What do you wish you’d learned when you were our age?
To love is a decision we make again and again.
To forgive is a choice we grow into, usually not overnight.
Boldly stepping forth and trying the new enriches our lives.
We need wisdom from a loving community to make good decisions.
What’s important to you now, Oma?
I believe the Spirit placed within you so much strength, beauty, courage, and capacity for goodness that you’ll never run out. You have that of God within you. My hope is that you will respond in love to that of God within all that is.
You are precious in my sight and honored and I love you.
(God’s message in Isa. 43:4.)