Those who came before us
cried salt tears, loved and lost,
wondered what was yet to come,
worried they weren’t good enough . . .
Steered by who knows what, they carried
on through wars, disease, and infant deaths
whose frequency made no difference
to the grief they suffered. Year after
year, women brought new lives
into the world, and sometimes gave their own
in the bringing.
Those who remained kept on singing
through the turning of the seasons,
sacraments of every kind,
singing while they worked,
singing while they worshipped,
singing after supper with the darkness
huddled round them.
We are here in spite of,
we are here because they persevered,
because their laughter and their music
kept them going,
because their faith kept rising
from the ashes
and drove them on toward us.
It is our turn now
to keep the faith
to sing the song
to gaze at stars and wonder why,
to love our children,
build our dreams,
to laugh, to cry,
and know the humble satisfaction
of having done our part.
In this winter season
may you hear ancestors singing.
Leave them a portion of your holiday feast,
take a moment to thank them
for their sorrows and their songs,
and may you be blessed enough
to feel the joy that sustained them,
to be sustained, yourself,
and to pass the joy along to
those who follow.