Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just the beginning...



I’ve felt great pressure to hurry up and record my feelings and thoughts about our recent holiday, but I haven’t been able to organize the plethora of chaos swirling in my head.

First and foremost, the purpose and mission of our trip; to learn about and explore lives of our ancestors. Our genealogy reaches far back in some places, and dead ends in others. This was a chance for us to visit the places where we know our family lived, and try to be detectives in finding others. Why is this so important to us? It gives our life meaning. Knowing our heritage helps to connect us to a family tree of lives, realizing choices and paths not only affect you, but generations to come. There is also a great work to be done for these people. We have believed in Christ and God since the beginning of time, and now that the church has been restored, great ordinances like baptism that are part of the plan can be done not only while living, but for those who have passed on long ago, giving a purpose to this belief of something greater.

One of our coach drivers asked in his thick Scottish accent, “Do you do this in America- visit cemeteries? To tell you the truth, I think it’s all a little creepy.” Sure we wanted to visit traditional tourist spots, but even more exciting to us, was the chance that perhaps while hopping from abandoned cemetery to old chapel we would somehow discover a relative that had been forgotten. A great contrast I found to this was when I saw king or queen immortalized in the form of a statue, monument, or plaque. What about the working class and those who had humble dwellings and spent every waking hour making a life for their children. What makes one life worthy of a statue, and another life worthy of a faded headstone fallen over in a rural country plot. Is not every life equally precious? Yes!

The great traditions of pomp and circumstance were not as impressive to me as the feats of those hard working men and women who laid each stone in the castle walls, or who made meals for the hundreds of hungry soldiers defending and sacrificing their lives in the name of freedom and religion. This isn’t to say that the King sitting on his throne making tough decisions wasn’t key to history. As dad reminded the guides, “We don’t want to just drive around seeing buildings; we want to see how the people lived. Take us out of the city to the little towns and show us how they lived.” And every night before we went to bed, we would meet in our parents room for family prayer and they would ask us, “what did we learn today?” Our replies ranged from everything about tradition, to faith in miracles, to political discussions, to our fondness for eating fish and chips in century old ruins.

I breathed in the wet country air filled with old musky barn wood and cows. I smelled the smoke and wine on the cities that long gave companionship to tumultuous daily life. I savored the flavors of rich cheeses and fresh herbs on warm oven baked bread. I nibbled on bits of delicate chocolate and picked wild berries whose freshness burst in my mouth. I walked where kings, peasants and prisoners walked. My eyes marveled at the mighty towers of aged stones, and my heart leapt at the views of intricately carved symbols, brilliant glass windows, and elaborate tapestries. I sighed at the site of thatched roofs and little old women walking down cobblestone sidewalks in humble shoes worn for years. I ran my hand across stones covered with soft vibrant green moss. I heard bagpipes and violinists in the square that made my heart swell with pride and gave a lump to my throat. “I am having a moment….” was all I could think to say as after each special instant I turned my head to see yet another beautiful picture snapped by my mind's eye. I left a piece of my heart there hoping to return again…and I will.





17 comments:

Karyann said...

HOly crow, I am jealous. Beautiful, amzing, gorgeous...wow. What a fun get away!

Danielle said...

Someone will finally understand my obsession with all things European and Scandinavian...walking the roads and seeing that countryside changes you forever, let's say bye to our guys and go to Paris...someday!

Hand Picked Daisy said...

Sara, that was absolutly gorgeous. The pictures that you took and the pictures you put in my head by your beautiful writing. Did you find more people in your family?

O'BRIEN FAMILY BLOG said...

sarah- your truly are just amazing. what an opportunity, i am so jealous! gorgeous. those pics in your mind will be priceless forever dont loose them!

Amanda said...

Oooo! I've been waiting for a post about your trip - and you did not disappoint!!! Thank you for sharing and articulating!
I do have one request, if it's possible. I don't have a blog, so I don't know how it works. But with some the pictures, I can click on them and they fill my screen and I can see them in all of their glory. But with others, I can't - they just stay small. I was just wondering if you could make it so that I can see them all. If you can't or don't want to, I understand. I'm just trying to live vicariously!

Hand Picked Daisy said...

Hey you! I noticed that you sold some stuff on your etsy account. You go girl. How exciting.

Mary Taylor said...

GORGEOUS STUFF!!!!!! I expect a slideshow presentation at our next get together!!! I love the coach guys comment! lol You are a pretty creepy person! lol What an amazing opportunity! I love your words. (and your guts)

Mary Taylor said...

PS - love the sunflare!!

onesilentwinter said...

Stunning photos Sara, what a beautiful experience and time it must have been- i love what you write.

That tree and the cow- gorgeous!

Family Days said...

Wow---those pictures are awesome! What an amazing opportunity and experience!

bill, katie, and co. said...

I have been there and experienced similar feelings when we went to Scotland to visit the graves of ancestors. (Dundee, Dunbar...for the Dunfords) This post was SO powerful! Thank you for sharing.

SmithDish said...

Thank you for sharing... for using all of your senses, for reminding me of the importance of past, present and future family history. What an incredible, moving experience you must have had.

Lisa said...

What an amazing trip! I am sorry I have been MIA for a while! I am going to be in SLC a week from Sunday. I would love to see you. We are doing swiss days... Let me know if you will be around.

Bonbon Oiseau said...

wow~! So beautiful and exciting! lucky girl! but is that first photo an old electric chair with shoes?

sami hansen said...

dear sara,

you are amazing! love everyone's photos of the trip. so fabulous!

I was stuck doing another project and didn't get to go to Gordon's that day. I was reassured that I would get to go next time, and that there definitely would be a next time. So here is to that! :)

Miss you girl! Come to NYC!

xoxo

Jennifer said...

Hope you are doing well.

SmithDish said...

Once again... Take my breath away.