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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    I Do - Honoring My Ancestral Connection

    Though I stood alone on my wedding day, I married four people that night. My kind-hearted groom was the most obvious; to him I gave my promise and laid my heart. But I also said "I do" to a fourth, unseen partner. A being who stood invisible and carried with them a weighty burden of hopes and expectations —an invisible guest from another realm.

    On my special day, I took a all-too-human pledge to both nurture and nourish a larger family tree. That promise was made to more than just my husband, for within it nestled the implicit commitment to honor all our roots. Our ancestors have their own stories written over thousands of years, mountains of memories that stretch back through time; of bridged gaps, emotional reconciliations, and wounds that will never completely heal.

    When we wed, my new spouse brought with him his own intertwinings, an ancient tapestry of complex relationships. He swapped tales with my father-in-law of remembered dreams and broken histories—restless migrations caused by war and hate, trades of children bartered on battlefields, whispers of days prosperous past. Though these events seemed distant and dimly lit, their depictions were alive.

    This remembering expands upon me as each generational grave is unearthed. I reach out to more love, understanding more profoundly what was demolished and forgotten; I stand at attention in the face of the systemic destruction of indigenous peoples' lives and cultures; I grit my teeth against vile holocausts everywhere; I mourn separation of loving communities past down through the ages.

    My son and daughter are likewise compelled to respect and embrace a broader awareness of justice and healing. Elders raised us to understand that honoring our ancestors means living today with greater clarity, purpose, compassion and courage. For regardless of ethnic or racial background, the unifying factor if our history must be acknowledged with respect if we are to find peace in our present.

    I acknowledge too, the many vibrant features of life that come with our shared ancestry. Alongside vivid images of strife, surges of joy blossom--histories of art and music, rich familial connections that trill out into future generations in ecstatic celebration of tales once told. From the beauty of athletic feats of strength, skillful craftsmanship and language exchange between tribes, to culinary arts with tantalizing flavors blending hues from around the world—there is much to learn from our past and beauty awaiting within it.

    A little over twenty years ago those four entities joined into one mighty contract: A binding tie between myself and the spiritual forces stretching far beyond this earth's physicality. Together we embark on this journey with lessons to explore about love, faith, forgiveness and legacy. By completing this biblical rite I agree to bind myself not only to my husbands lineage but to that of the world's as well. I Do... We Two.

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