Thursday, October 06, 2005

Not So Alone After All

If your name is something like John Smith or Bill Jones, you probably aren't surprised to learn that there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people who share your name. A surname such as Pettigrew is far less common, here in the U.S. at any rate. Even so, I've occasionally seen evidence that I am not the only Mark Pettigrew in the world. That impression has been substantiated by a web search via Yahoo, Google or Dogpile. One recent search (at turned up 60 different results!

It's interesting to see what other Mark Pettigrews are doing in the world. Among my namesakes, there seem to be a lot of writers (one of whom specializes in religions of the Middle East, and another who has written a number of educational books about science) and professors. I also found at least one police officer (in Canada), and even a tattoo artist. I'd have to say that I identify most with the writers and educators, in terms of my own interests.

Growing up, I knew very little about the history of the Pettigrew name, but I've subsequently learned that we seem to originate primarily from Scotland (e.g., Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Kelso, etc.) and, to a lesser degree, from Ireland.

There's a Scottish company, Pettigrews of Kelso, which makes some excellent food products such as fruit cake, lemon curd, chutney, and so forth. (I confess. I actually like fruit cake! And their lemon curd tastes great on shortbread. And no, I don't have any business connections with the company.) Perhaps one day I'll get to travel to the U.K. and meet some of my distant relatives there.

A person could kill a lot of time by using the Web to search for information pertaining to the geneology of one's family name, and tracking down all of one's distant relatives, no matter how remote. But to what end? I admit that there's a certain narcissistic pleasure associated with seeing one's name in print or on the Web, even when it belongs to a person one has never met. Even so, I think that a person's identity ultimately has much less to do with one's family name, and much more to do with the type of legacy one leaves behind.

If you'll take the time to read a number of the articles I've posted on this blog site so far, I think that you'll see that I'm trying to be a person of substance. I'm trying to focus on things which matter in the light of eternity, not on the type of trivial matters (such as celebrity gossip) which seem to preoccupy so many people these days. That's not to say that everything in this blog will be deep and profound, but it is to say that I will try to keep the trivia to a minimum.

As important as it is to leave a lasting, positive legacy, even that is insufficient. Ultimately, the most important aspect of one's identity is one's relationship (or lack thereof) with God. So while I am by no means ashamed to say that my surname is Pettigrew, I take much more pleasure in identifying myself as a Child of the King. Earthly families are transient. My heavenly family is eternal. Sometimes, when I contemplate all of the ridiculous quarrels which take place in the Family of God, I wonder if that's such a good thing, but then I remind myself that such quarrels are just a reflection of the fact that the final fulfillment of God's plan has not yet occurred. I look forward to the day when all of God's children can fellowship together in perfect harmony, in God's eternal kingdom.

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