Poem: Family Search

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Family Search

Some say it is the spheres at play!
Some say that bright majority
Of vanished dames and men!

You have not vanished from eternity,
but you have vanished from this earthly sphere.
Like a life detective, I seek names—
a question, then a rumor, then a clue,
And then (we pray) a record. I track you
through memories and Bibles and through dust
of census-takers plodding to your home
and listing precious children, one by one.
May heaven bless the record-keepers, all
who wrote with a fair hand, who found, who filmed,
who indexed. And bless you, who pray for sleuths
to seek you out.
A puzzle to be solved,
you left a trace of story or a hoard
of ribbon-sheltered letters, fading ink,
a scrap of quilt, a treasured wedding ring,
a face in tones of sepia, with a stern
companion, or beloved babe in lace.
Enough to make your history come clear—
in uniform or bridal veil or as
a gap-toothed child, long buried now, but sought,
through attics or in albums or in songs,
or gravestones hidden in the deepening grass.

We go forth to the nations of the world;
we seek lost lambs to bring to Father’s house:
to seal you to the family of Christ,
to seal the generations reaching hands
to one another, all across the Earth,
to realize the blessings you have sought,
and learned to hope for, from the messengers
who taught you of the mercy, and the grace,
and of the ordinances of the Lord.
Our hope is to present our Book of Life,
of Eve’s and Adam’s generations whole,
with this first page: your spirit’s pedigree
on one bright line(1): you are a precious child
of Heavenly Parents. They will welcome you.

And so I work to give you that full choice,
as savior on Mount Zion, and your friend,
and child, with you, of our shared heritage.

Some think it service in the place
Where we, with late, celestial face
Please God, shall ascertain!(2)

—Lisa Bolin Hawkins

(1) Boyd K. Packer, “To Young Women and Young Men,” Ensign, May 1989, 54; quoted in Brian K. Taylor, “Am I a Child of God?” Ensign, May 2018, 12.
(2) The italicized opening and closing lines are from Emily Dickinson, “Musicians Wrestle Everywhere,” Complete Poems (1924), no. 82, http://www.bartleby.com/113/1082.html

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