Ancestor’s Eve: Why Stories Matter

Earlier this year Drew and I watched Star Trek: Voyager. In the fifth season one of the characters invents Ancestor’s Eve, a spring holiday honouring some of the crew’s ancestors.

On April 22 I celebrated Ancestor’s Eve by re-telling stories from both of our families of origin. Some were silly, others serious and even though we have nine months to go before this holiday comes around again I’ve already begun to collect new stories. Next year we’ll expand the traditional definitions of ancestor and kin for this project- wisdom does not always come with age and there is far more to being a family than sharing DNA or bumping names in a genealogy.

Sermons – religious or otherwise – are a dime a dozen and morality tales only work if one already agrees with their underlying assumptions. A story without strings is different, though. (By that I mean a tale told without painting the moral of it in neon green letters across the exposition.) Yes, some mistakes we do have to muddle through ourselves order to grok a particular lesson but others can be learned from through observation.

One of my favourite things to do growing up was to sit with the adults and listen to their stories about engagements, abuse, comical misunderstandings about moist towelettes, the harrowing effects of untreated physical and mental illnesses, summer droughts, death, new babies, and conflicting opinions about that new restaurant in town.

As a PK (preacher’s kid) I probably heard more about the dark side of life than most kids who grow up in loving families. Occasionally mom and dad would gloss over certain details or clarify particularly troubling situations later on with us but I was never frightened by what I overheard. It was just part of pastoring. I’d like to recreate this experience here at On the Other Hand.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to begin gathering your own stories for Ancestor’s Eve next spring. Anything that has taught you or someone you know is eligible. I’ll mention it here sporadically over the next ten months and am hoping to share some of your stories along with my own at the end of April 2012.

Are you in? 🙂

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