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Mary’s Musings: Soulprints

By Mary Bridges, chaplain

“Such good things can happen to people who learn to remember.” — Emily Dickinson

The fourth of July is a time of remembering for me. We bought my husband’s childhood home in 1987. Our annual Bridges Family Reunion began in 1989 when we invited everyone to help us re-shingle the two-and-a-half-story rock home over the holiday weekend. The grandkids had a great time; Kenny’s nephew didn’t like heights, so he hauled the old shingles to the dump.

One year, a great-great niece and her Nashville singing group provided entertainment for the celebration. Another year, the many talented Bridges artists held a month-long show at the Deines Cultural Center. Everyone loved those reunions, and they continued for over 20 years.  

This past year, our Bridges family lost five members. It has been unbearably hard, as were unable to gather for our goodbyes. Kenny is the youngest of the 12 Bridges children. As the “last Bridges standing,” he has written some family stories with our daughter as editor. Grandma Bridges came from Russia at age 8, and she left her “soulprints” on the lives of her descendants. I love Marcia Wiederkehr’s explanation of soulprints:

“There is a way that the soul can get crowded out of one’s day. The soul is a bit shy and does not demand center stage. She lives a life of her own, and yet there are soulprints in every fiber of your being, even in the things you’ve forgotten. The soul is the keeper of memories. She knows where the beauty is stored. She contains the memories of your entire life. Deep in your unconscious, she stands guard. If you are in need of a particular memory, she can reveal it to you and help you to bear both the beauty and the pain. She knows all about the gold in your memories.”

Ancestors, mentors, companions, friends and shapers of our hearts … who are the heroes and heroines in your life? Whose wisdom has been a central guide along the way? Who stood by you in a troublesome time?  Whose spirituality or theology influenced your own?  Who brought you joy, laughter, delight?  What ancestor retains a special place in your life?  I invite you to do some “ancestor remembering,” closing with this prayer by Joyce Rupp:

“God of our ancestors, today we gather to our hearts all those who have influenced our lives with their love and goodness. Although they have passed on to the other side of this life, their lives continue to affect who we are and what we do. Like the sound of a bell resounding in the welcoming air, so has the goodness of these holy ones resonated in our lives. Thank you for these ancestors and the bond we have with them. AMEN.”

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