It is good to have parents. A father and a mother. It is also good to know one’s grandparents. Two men and two women: four different persons. We are thankful to them, for their four bloods are running in our veins, making each one of us, a unique and precious being.

I take pleasure in learning about their lives. About the way they first met one another. I enjoy listening to their stories. Listening to the sound of their voices. Listening to their souls.

Old letters or postcards, once were mere exchanges, matter-of-fact and ordinary news. Years and centuries now turn them into documents. Can we figure out how many great novels, how many fascinating books, have been based on such fragile papers? …Kept in a shoe-box!

It is good to read old accounts of family events. We learn about people we have not known, and the scope of our folklore widens beautifully.

This is not to stick to some bygone, idealized epochs, but to discover a deeper knowledge of our forefathers. Indeed, we feel lucky to find a dentist who no longer tortures us with rusty tools; we are privileged to enjoy hot water, without having the labor of chopping wood and carrying buckets up the stairs…

But as we pause to read the letters of great grand parents, we come to share in their affections and to know something about what they experienced, long before us. Beneath the simple words, silently penned on the sheet of paper, we almost sense the beat of their hearts, whose love brought new beings into the world. Far from being some old stuff to be thrown away, those sheets bring life and warmth to names, otherwise insignificant, followed by two dates, enclosed between brackets…

Each life is a novel. Each human existence, in some way, is a love story. Sometimes poignantly beautiful, somethimes less so, or even not at all pleasurable. Yet, the lines that we may strive to decipher, in the paled ink of some crumpled parchment or old paper, bring us so many images of forgotten times, filled with the refreshing fragrance of childhood roots…

Within each of us, a personal universe is unfolding, a foretaste of the Present which is the sum of our days on earth, the promised «New Earth and new Heaven», when we shall be «all in all» and shall see «face to face».

Fr. Dominique+ (NY)

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