Over the course of the millennia, all these multitudes of ancestors, generation upon generation, have come down to this moment in time—to give birth to you. There has never been, nor will ever be, another like you. You have been given a tremendous responsibility. You carry the hopes and dreams of all those who have gone before. Hopes and dreams for a better world.
Laurence Overmire, One Immigrant’s Legacy
The sound of falling rain, gentle and steady, lures me toward wakefulness. For a few minutes I float on awareness and consider ascending toward the surface. Instead, I choose the other way; I sink into a sweet slumber in which I dream of place and people and I stay there long enough to wake later, feeling rested.
We are home. The sky is cloudy and, after an uncomfortably warm night, the morning air is cool coming through the window. I am, and will be for a time, still ruminating on the time spent on the prairie. I felt my roots grew deeper as I stood on the land and sat with people who were mine. I am now tethered. I am more real.
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Some sweet, simple moments:
We are gathered in a large room of a restaurant with family members and spouses—eleven in total—and the conversation is about connection. A woman shows me a photograph of my grandfather and his siblings (“this was your grandfather, this was mine”) and the connection is made clearer. Even among those who have known one another for ages, there is talk of those not here, and connection, and it’s just the kind of talk that happens when family gathers. It’s just the kind of talk I’ve never been privileged to be part of. It’s priceless.
One afternoon my cousin takes me to meet a man she met for the first time not too many years ago, a man whom we are related to. We sit in the home of this ninety-plus-year-old-man and his wife—both sharp and healthy—and talk about the familial connection we share. He, a Letkeman too, has a lifetime of knowledge. I would love to sit here for a good long time and mine some of his memories.
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We are home now and those precious prairie family days are in the past. I choose to believe that they are also in the future. They will be in the future.
I have an appointment this morning, and afterward must tend to my neglected garden. The harvest is plentiful; the weeds are too. There are photos to download and process, a manuscript to return to, and administrative things to tend to. I want to sit with the Letkeman family books and clarify for myself some of that which is still cloudy. A new writing project has been dancing in my mind as we traveled prairie roads; I need to make some notes while the thoughts are still fresh.
There is much to do as we ease back into everyday life, but I do so with a sense of who I am that I didn’t have before. It’s difficult to put into words how deeply impactful it has been to sit with family—the conversation, the laughter, the finding out about one another, the awareness of threads that weave through the Letkeman tapestry, through and into me—all of these things ground and give me strength. I think it must be difficult for those who have always had these gifts to understand how impactful they are on one, like me, who hasn’t.
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Now I enter into soak time.
Like plants in my garden soak in and grow, fed by nutrients in the soil that allow roots to go deeper and fruit to be sweeter; so too I feel myself entering into a time of contemplative growth, nourished through gifts of faith, family, and heritage.
More than once this week conversation has touched on little coincidences and things that make all of what has happened seem magical. “It’s like a miracle,” someone commented. I see the hand of the Creator in all of this and it is, in a sense, something of a miracle.
And so, as I sit and soak and write and remember over the course of the next days and weeks, I do so with profound gratitude and awareness of the wonder of it all.
Soli Deo gloria.