Brevitting For Something Lost

I came across them this morning, ‘brevitting’ in the Churchyard. ‘Brevitting’ was a word quite commonly used in these parts when I was a girl. To Brevitt is look, hunt or search for in a very thorough way. If Grandma told you, ‘Stop brevitting in my drawers’ then you would already have the drawers contents strewn about in an untidy sprawl, as you pursued some object of desire, some elusive and lost something.

And what were the genteel husband and wife looking for on a lovely September morning amongst the wild flowers and headstones, with folders, notes and a copy of the churchyard map (obtained from library archives) clutched in their hands like Sherlock Holmes’ magnifying glass.

Well, long lost relatives, memorials, names and inscriptions. Like treasure hunters, gold prospectors, they were on the trail of their ‘Family Tree.’ They were also just a little bit lost themselves and more than glad to meet someone else, who looked as if she knew where she was going, and could explain the landmarks on their old map, things have changed since it was first drawn up with dip-pen and ink.

‘See these graves here, the ones just surrounded by the blue-bricks without memorials, would they be paupers’ graves?’

‘No.’ Gently I explain that the blue kerbstones usually indicate a brick-lined grave and that if you had been really poor yours would have been a simple earth burial, no kerbstones, just a numbered iron marker. And that the large stone headstones which were finally identified as belonging to their ancestors were few in number, because these long lost relatives had been ‘richer’ than many.

This information was received with a kind of quiet satisfaction.

Everyone wants to discover that they come from a ‘good line’-from people who ‘made it’ And more and more people are trying to discover ‘who they are’

As recently as 50 years ago, folks in these parts could sit and talk through their own line, going back 3/4 generations; they knew just who was cousin to whom and how many times removed. Those days, of simply sitting and talking and recounting family history have gone, the stories are not passed on and something precious has been lost, that something for many is the knowledge of whom they truly are.

Talking is good. Talking keep families together, passes on memories and the knowledge of whom we are,

“Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him, he was only one man, and I blessed him and made him many.” (Isaiah 51: 1,2,)

Yes, there are many today who are looking to the rock from which they were cut and for the quarry from which they were hewn, hoping to find themselves, their roots,
and amongst their roots their identity, but few are seeking the Lord, the passage reminds us that before Abraham was, He was. It was the Shepherd and the Rock of Israel who blessed Abraham and made him a family, and many.

Standing amongst the memorials, I hear the faintest of whispers,

“Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)

I Know that everything I have ever searched for has been found in one place, I look to the Shepherd, the Rock the one who blesses.


6 thoughts on “Brevitting For Something Lost

  1. i like the saying, “the proof is in the pudding.” my ancestors fled the French revolution, moved to England and changed their names. but that’s just one branch, another is either native American or African American, nobody can seem to decide. it is curious how in the scope of history, folk are looking to “discover” their family trees now at this point in time. Utah is big in that, with the Mormons even having their own libraries for genealogical research. probably has something to do with over-population (and the ‘smaller’ world from greater communications)?

  2. What you say is very relevant, I think also another large factor is the increasing number of family break-ups, where all talking has come to a stop, and many children born over the last 40/5o years have not actually been bought up by their birth parents. The Mormons in Utah wrote to us asking permission to access our church registers which are now archived at the nearest Big Library to add to their data-base. Our neck of the woods has never historically wealthy one so their are many whose scattered descendants – do come with a real expectation of finding sad stories. Many thank for you input and visit.

    1. It comes from breviary – the Latin prayer book – when it was first used it was in connection with telling your beads, using the rosary prayer, which was an exercise really in recollecting or finding yourself, somewhere in history the Anglo Saxons who gave our district it peculiar dialect borrowed and applied it to searching for any thing in a concentrated way. German visitors to our area are more at home with our dialect than of fellow English people from other counties. Thank you for calling by. I am learning much from your blog.

  3. Reading this gave me goosebumps; and not because of the tombstones. We are children of an everlasting King. Our earthly lineage is inconsequential. Thank you for the reminder.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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