Tuesday, July 08, 2014

A Perfect Family Lineage

Posted by Jean P. Purcell

The Dickens name is in my ancestral line, but I have no idea if it comes from male siblings of Charles Dickens. I think it probably does not, or someone would have traced the family line by now. An oddity is that my paternal grandmother, a Dickens, had a Dickensian name, Dora. Also, I remember that I once in a European city I passed by a huge head sketch that hung in a bank window, and I turned around quickly because out of the corner of my eye I had recognized my dad's profile!...the nose, the brows, the hairline, high forehead, and abundant dark hair, all creating a strong resemblance to my dad. Then I noticed the label for the sketch subject, and it said Charles Dickens.

That really does not matter beyond family curiosity, I suppose. I have thought that the relation would have been a good story, if true. Yet, l have heard so many stories of how claiming connection to famous people can actually hurt more than help that it gives me pause. 

Who would want to write as a distant relative on the generational heels of an Uncle Charles Dickens? There are Dickens in the UK that truly are directly related to the great author, yet the only writer among them, a woman, writes in a different style and genres than her great-great-grandfather.

The theme of family names and connections can open doors, or so I've heard. But no one should count on it, because the likelihood of painful comparisons later might arise, to one's face or behind one's back. One way or another, the weight of family names carries something. No one can be perfectly sure about exactly what that something might be.

It is so good to be proud of family character and achievement. Yet, what about instances where that does not happen? What if there are imprisonment, rumor of fraud, or other assumed lapses of character in the background? Whether to a slight or a great degree, who wants to broadcast that and risk exclusion? 

That's how things work "down here," as Clarence, George Bailey's angel in It's a Wonderful Life, might say.

God's Favorites


You likely know that I am heading to place of God's different measure. He has no favorites as we consider the term. He "is no respecter of persons." It is written that whether Jew or Greek, whether from one tribe or another, whether male, female, rich, poor, or in between...God is not looking at all of that.

He "looks upon the heart," and I believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Moses and Sarah, of Gideon, Aaron, and Joshua, as well as Miriam, the God of Ishmael and his mother, the God and Father of Jesus Christ. Except for the last name, the others were very flawed. Yet, they kept seeking God.

Our standing with God matters, so Jesus bridged that gap to introduce us to the heart of God in a new way. 

When my daughters grew up, I had to learn that what I had or had not done as a mom or a "career woman," (which I wasn't), did not matter to God. Can you believe that I found that reassuring? i did, for the world had told me something different, had judged me by what I did under titles and who I knew, or did not know.

I used to picture God giving me a large umbrella to hold over my daughters, to bring them out of the storms of life. I wanted them to be only with people and events that would be happy and good for them. 

Later i realized that God did not give a parenting desire to me, only. He holds His protecting hand over all of His children, and He has good plans for them, for their future and for hope. And now that i have grandsons, the lineage of Christ will continue, I pray. Each will seek and settle that with God on his own, with family patience and encouragement.

I cannot help writing philosophically about such things, and I accept that I am likely of no blood relation to Charles Dickens, though the family stories go way back. However, the kinship that I, and all his fans, feel with him is real. It is of the heart. 

Dickens took note of those who were proud, those who considered others to be less worthy than themselves, those who considered themselves very lowly. He made each one, in individual ways, to change, become softer or sturdier, as needed, to soften, forgive, and share. There's a good end to a story.