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On Sunday, I participated in an amazing workshop called Family Constellations. The participants have an opportunity to present a question or problem and then have the other participants act out the various members of the family involved in the issue. The purpose is to free blockages that are preventing the flow of love and respect from one family member to another. I played various roles in several scenarios – a dead mother, an unborn twin, a grandmother holding back her daughter from the convent. A circle was somehow created that allowed us to sometimes feel the feelings of the character we portrayed. I could feel the pain of the mother who died leaving her daughter with no immediate family members and her “letting go” when the daughter accepted her fate.

When my turn came, the problem and the outcome were very different from what I expected. I was told that the issue I brought was “none of my business,” but that another issue from the information I gave could be used. The central family member who emerged as an ally in my life was my paternal grandmother, a woman who died in childbirth with her eighth child when my father was very young. My heart went out in a deeper way to my father, who also lost his father when he was eleven years old. Orphaned, he and his brothers were separated and placed with various relatives and the Benedictine seminary.

This grandmother lives on in me and feels more present to me, more than a name and a distant story. Perhaps her story will become the subject of another book.

What experience do you have with your ancestors?

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