Every summer I come face to face with my heritage and in some ways revel in it. Family congregates on the shore of a small lake in the Cariboo region and ties are re-forged, and there is much catching up to do. As conversations ebb and flow, Dutch mingles with English in a sort of dance that is familiar and comforting. Babies are cooed over, toddlers watched, teens guided, and boyfriends/girlfriends are vetted.
This is my village, my family, my heartbeat.
But there is something worth more here than family ties, there is a common faith, a deep faith. A faith that has guided this family for generations.
It is this faith, this rock, that I hold most precious and feel the weight of.
Some of my earliest memories are of sitting with my Grandmother, whom I called Mama, at her pump organ listening to her play her favorites hymns and singing along. She loved with a generous heart, and could often be heard telling one of us that de liefde bedekt alle dingen (love covers everything). As I got older, I figured that as someone who had survived the atrocities of WWII in occupied Holland she would know.
She would greet each morning with a litany that would always begin with “Thank you Lord…” and would end the day literally praying at her bedside, on her arthritic knees for each member of her family.
My other Grandmother (Oma) also had a steadfast faith. It was a much quieter one in comparison to her counterpart, yet it was no less deep. She was a staunch Calvinist and she too sang and played hymns at her organ. She too survived occupied Holland.
Both started families during that turbulent time. Both sought better for their families when the war was over. Both uprooted and moved their families to another country where they did not know the language. Both pioneers in their own way. Their stories fraught with danger, full of love, and the overcoming of obstacles.
At the heart of all of it: Worship. Prayer. Faith.
They form the cornerstone of my family’s God walk.
The opening verse of Hebrews 12 talks about a cloud of witnesses cheering us on. For some that is a hypothetical cloud as they are pioneering the God walk for their family. However, for me, I have family in that cloud, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on. That fact alone makes me all the more aware of how I need to move forward.
I have people who have gone before me and blazed trails of faith, and established homes of love, patience, prayer and worship. These people are now watching and waiting to see what I am going to do with the legacy that they left me. It helps to keep things real for me.
There are times it feels weighty. Yet, there are also times it helps to free me to do what I know do to. There will be trails that I will have to blaze on my own, and knowing that others have gone before me, helps to alleviate some of the pressure.