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.