Silver Threads
by my mother, Worth Cooley-Prost

Here’s how I think it works. Each one of us is born carrying a Silver Thread that runs from our life straight back to the heart of our Creator. No one has ever carried that particular thread before, and no one will ever carry that particular thread again. Only you will ever carry your thread, only I will ever carry mine.

These threads are what weave this huge, timeless tapestry we’re part of, far too great for us to perceive while we’re walking the Earth. We can’t even look an inch to the left and say, “That person is not weaving fast enough,” or to the right and say, “That person is not weaving evenly.” The only thread we can weave with is our own.

Some of your ancestors’ threads are woven into yours, those with whom you have some particular affiliation. Different ancestors must work with different people in the same family — otherwise, siblings would be much more alike than they are.

As you come to know those ancestors, you can understand more about what you came here to do. This understanding is more of the Heart than of the Mind. Do the Work and trust the Process.

If we wait to do everything until we know what it is, non of us would ever have learned to walk.

The Start of a Long Journey

My mother and I were largely estranged from our extended family when I was growing up. The concept of researching ones’ genealogy was associated with parts of the family that ran counter to the egalitarian values mom held dear and had instilled in me.

There were a few snippets of things I knew, like that we had what would be considered “fancy ancestors,” and there was was mystery surrounding the first-born daughter in every generation having to be named Elizabeth — a tradition that mom broke for the first time in longer than anyone in the family could remember.

There was a great-aunt had written a big deal genealogical registry of some sort, and mom though it was an absolute hoot that we could, technically, take our bohemian/hippy-dippy selves and join several “uppity” societies, which would apparently piss off a whole bunch of well-bred women who knew which fork was for what. (Mom certainly knew which fork was for what, but it wasn’t among the knowledge she passed on to me.)

Then in 2006 at an Indigenous gathering, Diane Longboat told mom (and a bunch of other folks) that it was crucial to discover and connect with their ancestors.

Mom had a hard time with this at first, because so many of our ancestors caused so much suffering, and had “carved out the history of Europe with  their swords.”

Gradually something connected, and she began her journey to connect with her ancestors in earnest, from a place of spirit.

Luckily I benefited from her hours and hours of research, since half of my ancestors are all of hers. (The other half are a mystery — my biological father was adopted. Mom knew his birth mother’s name and the over-the-top intense story of how my biological father was taken from her and adopted by the sheriff who rescued him, but I don’t remember it.)

Something I found very interesting was how she and I resonated more deeply with different ancestors, though we delighted in uncovering a pattern of going against the grain in ways meant to benefit people.

Mom’s middle name, Southworth, turns out to be a connection to one of the ancestors she resonated most deeply with: Saint John Southworth. I’m infinitely grateful that she shared that ferocious tenacity with me.

When mom died, I inherited her research, which fills several boxes and will take some serious sorting through once they’re out of storage. There are already threads she uncovered that resonate deeply with me, and the more I explore my ancestors the more I discover about myself.

If you are not already, I encourage you to begin connecting with your ancestors. There’s something deeply soul-filling about it, and what Diane Longboat said really strikes a chord:

“The world is gravely out of balance now. Balance will not return through politics or environmental projects, it will come through Spirit. Cultural integrity is very important for understanding the rootedness of your own spirit… research and celebrate your lineage. Return to your ancestors to ground yourself in spiritual law, to rebalance. Your ancestors will help you get your songs back…”    ~ Diane Longboat, Mohawk Elder (April 2006)