In today’s blog, we explore the role that our ancestors have played in our spiritual journeys and the opportunities we have to redeem their unlived dreams, where appropriate.
Mildred Tends the Fire
Copyright 2011 Lauri Lumby
Mildred tends the fire built on past regrets
And gifts suppressed.
Alcohol ignites the embers of a lifetime of unmet needs.
She fans the flames with her unwritten words
A towering inferno for all to see –
Past, present and future.
Learn from me!
Choose another course:
Ignore not the fire that burns within
Carefully heed her call.
And feed her
And by her power
You will be nourished
And the ones you love sustained.
By her strength you are empowered
Her heat gives you courage.
Burn bright and strong dear ones – colorful and brilliant
The fire you tend is you.
Guard it well as it gives you life
And light to all around.
Mildred Baker (McMahon) Evans was my maternal grandmother. Sadly, my childhood memories of her are mostly of the “scary witch who sat in the corner chair chain-smoking in one hand, a slightly dented beer can in the other with a dish of Brach’s star chocolates at her elbow.” While she was scary to me as a child, as an I adult, I now know that Grandma Mitz was a victim of the McMahon curse. Suffering with depression and anxiety disorder in a time where neither were acknowledged as disease and effective treatment not even considered let alone available, Grandma found relief in alcohol. Sadly, relief turned to abuse which eventually led to addiction and permanent (or so we thought) brain damage. By the time I knew her, she was mostly unable to care for herself and truly lived a life of “quiet desperation.” The good news is that after the death of her husband and ten years in a nursing home (without alcohol), the real Mildred began to return. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet this Grandma until just days before she died of lung cancer. While the timing was bad, I am so grateful to have gotten a glimpse into the woman my Grandma was supposed to have been. The new/original Mildred I met was sharp, quick-witted, had a twisted sense of humor (like me), enjoyed writing and playing the piano and joked about her brothers and sisters. She was delightful and this is the Grandma I wished I had gotten to know sooner.
The Role of Ancestors
Our ancestors play an important role in our spiritual journeys. Whether we want to admit it or not, our family of origin, going back several generations, plays a significant role in making us the person we are today – good and bad! Character traits, defense mechanisms, compulsions and addictions, inner gifts, physical appearance, etc. are all influenced in part by the genetic pool from which we originate. From my McMahon ancestors, I got depression, anxiety disorders, compulsive thoughts (worry), grudge-holding, a tendency toward co-dependency and alcohol abuse. The good news is that there are amazing gifts that have come from the McMahons as well – profound intuitive abilities, enormous creativity, a quick wit (sarcastic, cynical and twisted too!), a love of play, appreciate of family and hospitality, a gift in writing, musical talent and an appreciation of all of the arts.
Redeeming the Ancestral Influences
The influence of our ancestors plays an important role as we meander along the path of spiritual growth. Our gene pool is ours – for better or for worse. We cannot undo these influences, but as we grow spiritually, we will be given opportunities to choose whether we want to continue to live out of the wounded aspects of our ancestral line or if we want to work toward redeeming them. The invitation is to take the time to recognize and acknowledge the origin of the compulsive behaviors that seem to have come from our family of origin and make a different choice. At the same time, we are invited to acknowledge and give honor to that which is good and holy and magnificent about our ancestors and embrace those gifts. In releasing that which is unhealthy and embracing that which is glorious, we are able to live more fully as our most authentic selves. What is extra cool about this is that in choosing the magnificent, we not only redeem ourselves, but provide healing and release (redemption) for our ancestors, along with our own progeny. The healing goes back in time and forward in time into infinity. How cool is that?
I give thanks to my Grandma Mitz for showing me the curse along with the gift and I consciously choose to embrace the gift and trust that in doing so she too will experience healing. So, I embrace my writer, my musician, my sick and twisted humor, my love of family, friends, the arts and play! And as I hold up mug of dark-roast, freshly pressed, coffee (yep, here’s my addiction), I offer, “Cheers to you Grandma!”
Where are you able to recognize the wounded aspects of your ancestors and their influence in your own life?
What do you see at the gifts of your ancestors?
How are you being invited to heal the wounds and embrace the gifts?
Authentic Freedom Ministries