Sunday, November 04, 2007

Looking for the Ends of the Universe

Something my parish priest said last week resonated with me, though may be not for the reasons Father Jerry had in mind:

For some people, the Universe is made up of atoms. For us, the Universe is made up of stories.

The "us" he was referring to could have been family historians.

The one or two folks have been reading GeneaBlogie from the beginning know that long ago, I started find the origins of the Universe as a student of astrophysics. It's a long story, but I never achieved my original goal to be an astronomer. But now, I'm totally enthralled with the Universe of family history. It's just another way to understand where we come from.

The motives of family historians and genealogists have been questioned in some quarters of late. Some say that all we want to do is hang ancestral ornaments on our family trees to little effect. Well, just as I can tell a story about each of the unique decorations on my Christmas tree, I want to know and tell the stories of each ancestor.

It's certainly easier just to collect names and dates than it is to learn the stories. But for me, simply knowing a name and some dates is incredibly frustrating. I don't believe the stories simply disappear. It occurs to me that the stories I don't yet know are out there, and somebody out there knows part or all of each story. That's why I keep mentioning Sarah Gilbert Johnson (1849-1920?), Syntrilla Brayboy LeJay (1843-1920), and Charlotte Manson (1790?-?), and others.

I really want to know the contours of this Universe, and to the degree possible, its whys, and hows.

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