Notes from the Faith Journey: Richard Jackson

Among the many things that I am and have done in my lifetime, genealogy has been an interest of mine for the last 22 years. It started when my mother passed away and I asked a relative if she knew where my middle name “Ellis” came from. It was also the middle name of my grandfather and my mother’s brother, so I’ve always thought it must have some significance to my mother’s family . . . but no one knew what it was.

As I got into genealogy, I was amazed how many people were connected to my family history. The best I could tell, my mother’s side of the family came into the US through Maryland and Virginia and were likely in the Revolutionary War. They mostly settled in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois as a result of land grants to the soldiers after the war. I have over 30,000 people that I have found connected to my family. Not a single other person had the name of “Ellis.” The mystery continues.

It’s amazing to think that we are connected through the past to so many people. We can’t see them, but they are there. They help make us who we are. On All Saints Sunday I was reminded of all the people I was connected to in our church and my family that worshiped there. When I am in the sanctuary, I look at the pew where I sat between my grandparents. Also my folks sat there along with some Aunts and Uncles. I look at those pews and it still feels like they are sitting there. I can look all around the sanctuary and look at almost any seat and remember someone who sat there. I can see them in my mind and still feel a connection to them. Its very comforting to me.

We live in a time where its hard to feel connected to others because of the pandemic. We try to keep a distance from others to keep them safe. But in truth, we are not separated. Deep inside, we all know that. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it is not there. Every time I look at or think of those certain pews, I remember I am not alone. Thanks be to God.

Richard Jackson