God’s Family: Infinitely Varied, Incredibly Beautiful

When I began searching my family roots, I didn’t know how deeply I would come to care for them. The more I studied and understood who these people were, the more I loved them.

A Mandelbrot Image: Like a family tree – always more beautiful detail when one looks closer

I grew up memorializing graves once a year, but the year we made a goal to visit the graves of each direct ancestor buried in my home state was profound. My wife compiled locations of cemeteries I had never heard of and found life stories for each person’s grave we visited. I was touched because in many cases I hadn’t heard of their sacrifice and love, and at times of their heartbreaking tragedy.

I felt an awesome reverence as I stood in those cemeteries and pondered the lives of my family. I was surprised to feel such a compelling connection both with the stalwart and with the troubled souls on my family tree. The reverence came through a realization that I am a compound of 1000s of people’s decisions and efforts for which I am grateful.

Family Branches

Endless is my name; for I am without beginning of days or end      Moses 1:3

Branches of infinite beauty and variety from one of the world’s simplest formulas

I began researching people who married into my family and quickly felt pulled into their families. Many times tears came to my eyes as I pondered their lives and I’ve felt the distinct words, “You found me!” whispered to my heart. The widowed pioneer on my immediate tree was now mirrored by a widowed woman whose sister cared for her and her unborn son until she remarried… and then when the original caring sister became a widow herself, she was taken in by her sisters family. When I found them buried together in the same cemetery, my eyes once again filled with tears.

I wondered why I could feel such an amazing love for these people I had never met. I see immigrants who crossed from impoverished countries to come here to America. I see veterans of war who fought for our freedoms. I see the intense care of people for aging parents and accomplishments and beauty and strength. I’ve seen a glimpse of my Father in Heaven’s awesome family and now I realize that I am a compound of not thousands, but of hundreds of millions of people’s decisions and efforts both in and out of my family for which I am forever grateful.

Genealogy is like the Mandelbrot set pictured in this article where the more closely we examine the branches the more inspiring the detail and the more incredible the life stories of the individuals appear. This function, like the tapestry of life created by a good person, is based on a formula that is incredibly simple, but whose results are infinitely varied:

Mandelbrot: z(n+1)=z(n)^2+C   (see end of article for description)

Life: “Jesus… went about doing good” (Acts 10:38)

If we truly follow our Savior’s direction, he will direct our lives into the most intricate and incomprehensibly beautiful paths imaginable. Avoid the darkness. Make your life beautiful!

I’ve included this Mandelbrot zoom below because it touches my soul.

Deep in the structure of the Cosmos, in the very mathematics of the creation, is a fingerprint left by God.  Kurt Matthia

Here are links to some close and inspiring ancestors of mine whose lives were beautiful:

A Rescuer – Thomas Steed

My Greek Heritage

A Change of Heart – Thomas Harper

A Woman Called “Grandma”

Math Simplified Reference:

As the zoom continues, … objects seem to reappear, but a closer look always turns up differences. Things go on this way forever, infinitely various and frighteningly lovely.  Scientific American Magazine

The Mandelbrot formula is:

z(n+1)=z(n)^2+C

where C is a complex number coordinate mapped in a real/imaginary plane…  The “C” coordinate is used to seed the formula and is colored based on how quickly the value grows infinitely large or converges to zero as the result is fed back into the formula. A Mandelbrot image is created by graphing a 2-dimensional array of these “C” coordinates. What you see in a true Mandelbrot picture is the actual solution set of the formula – not an artist rendering, other than the colors they choose to represent the convergence iterations.

3 thoughts on “God’s Family: Infinitely Varied, Incredibly Beautiful”

  1. Beautifully and emotionally connected article. I am touched and moved?. So grateful and filled with gratitude. I look forward to more of your writings.?
    -Sai

    1. Thank you Elder Matthia! You refer to your book “Eclectic” with its thoughtful insights. That article is a wonderful reminder of core values that unite families together. My favorite parts are your comments on forgiving one another and that a true family waits on the Lords time. Patience and forgiveness will allow us to come to the day when the, “same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.” (D&C 130). Thanks for the reminder to be a wise steward over our family!

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