I've been thinking today about heritage. Not as in superficial heritage like having a barbecue on heritage day like everybody does here in South Africa, but heritage, true heritage. Through sea travel, exploration, greed, slavery and colonisation people began to move around in ways they never could before. Poeple took with them, their heritage and customs, others deserted their time bought customs and heritages for something that appeared better on the outside. Some people looked at what they held in their hands and left it behind because it was seen as inferior and of less value.
On one hand sea travel enabled the gospel to spread across the four corners of the earth. It enabled people to settle in new lands and worlds and create a future for themselves. It enabled us as mankind to realise that we are not confined to a small world view but rather that God is expansive, vast and loves us to enjoy His breath-takingly beautiful creation.
I have recently started reading a book set in Mexico almost 100 years ago. It starts off in a very wealthy vineyard where the key players in the setting, have a strong connection to the land they own and farm. They have a strong connection to their customs (big and small), to the language of Spain and to their status as landowners. There is something about this type of setting that always draws me to stare out the window and wonder. I have no connection to Mexico, no connection to modern day Spain and I don't like wine or even alcohol but I can relate to the connection so many have felt to a family heritage that spanned generations.
My dads family are from Spain, they left the country in the fifteenth century when they got booted out for being Jewish. They sojourned, branching off in to different places and lands. My great- great-grandfather travelled by boat over to South Africa from the U.K. No one in my family had an British accent and further then that no one can pinpoint where any of his other family members went to.
It is kind of a dead end railway line, and even though I have never travelled to Spain and the customs of Spanish people are foreign (quite literally) to me, I do feel that some elements of our bloodline heritages are in there somewhere.
Somewhere we have those connections, somewhere in us we can have passionate Spanish elements, or tea-loving British fettishes. I admire families who honour their heritage, families who can trace their lines back over hundreds of years. Of course this brings both good and bad things to the surface, but in many ways, it establishes some sort of security, stability and belonging. For me it's just beautiful and is valuable to those who have it.
How much does your family heritage mean to you? Is it something you can trace? Celebrate something of your heritage in the month of October!