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The value of your life

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

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One can only imagine what that man was thinking and feeling 350,000 years ago. Scientists in Italy speculate that the recently discovered footprints of a Stone Age man suggest that he was trying to escape the eruption of a volcano. They don't know for sure. All they have to go on is a shallow imprint on the surface of the ground, preserved by a thick layer of volcanic ash.

Having done a little excavating of my own into far more recent history - some genealogical research - I know what it's like to have very few crumbs to follow when tracking someone's journey. My ancestors came to the US from Switzerland, spent several years in Wisconsin, and eventually put down roots in Minnesota. They were all farmers. All but one, that is. Albert, my great-grandfather, broke with the pack. He left the family farm, moved across the state, managed a hotel, played in the town band, bought a laundry business, and held a couple of positions in town government. Why did he abandon the plow for business and politics? I can only imagine. The rest of his life story was untold.

In a discussion at The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity, Nell Irvin Painter, Edwards Professor of American History at Princeton University, explained that many life stories go untold because people don't value themselves. They don't think their "ordinary" lives are worth knowing about or learning from.

How unfortunate. Someone's life story can be valuable for many reasons. It may be for having an accurate historical record, or for a more complete picture of a family, or of an era. Some find, as I do, a hunger to learn from the transformative moments in a person's life, those enduring spiritual insights and lessons that can be life-changing. These untold stories are, sadly, a loss of light for the rest of us.

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