Reflecting on Legacy….

Stone House in the Pines by Dave Archer
Life is seldom what we expect it to be, and 2020 has sure been teaching us that lesson day after day. So many things we simply took for granted are no longer an option. I find myself praying in more open-ended ways, surrendering at a new and deeper level. I pray for the concerns of other, often concerns that cannot put into words. More than ever I just pray for their concern, trusting God knows what they need in the depth of His mercy ad love. Some mornings I just pray for the greatest good and highest healing, without clear knowledge of what that might be or how it will come about.

Lately I have been reflecting on this amazing photo taken by my cousin Dave Archer in at the village of Batso in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. The structure is a disused horse stable, yet if you look closely, you can still see hinges on the wood covering the window openings. Even when this building was boarded up, someone wanted this stable to stand ready to use again. Who knows how many other buildings were constructed in years gone by, then reduced to shambles over time? This stable was built to last far beyond the life of its creator, a building sturdy enough to be used by children and grandchildren not yet born.

The Pines are part of where I grew up so by contemplating this photo, I often think of those who came before me and formed who I am. There have been good and bad mentors in my life, those I seek to emulate and those whose fate I avoid like the plague. It seems to me during these quiet mornings we all need a bit of both to grow and change, both a carrot and a stick. Simply running away from a bad example is not enough. We need a brighter future to aim for or we may just jump out of the frying pan into the fire.

Those good and bad examples left behind a legacy that is difficult to describe in worldly terms. Legacy is a word we most often apply to money or property, yet I wonder if this stable offered more than just that. Those who helped build this stable learned what it means look beyond today, to take in the long view. This stable took more work and time than a simpler building, so they also learned patience and perseverance. Most of all, they created something that stands the test of time.

What if a lasting legacy is really about the principles we live by, how we nurture and mentor those in our care, how we treat those we love? That sort of legacy multiplies after we pass on, continues and expands beyond what we can begin to understand or imagine. That is a legacy worth the effort, isn’t it? Our own achievements, awards and possessions pale by comparison.

How do we stay focused on that lasting legacy? How do we refrain from allowing the distractions of everyday life to overwhelm us? The Buddhists practice something called Maraṇasati. They meditate on the nature of death using various visualization and contemplation techniques. I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with your legacy, yet this practice is far from morbid. We learn to appreciate that our time here is limited and precious. What seemed so important in the moment tends to fall away and many experience a profound sense of what is truly important to them. For some legacy is still part of their work, for others perhaps not. Each of us has at least one talent or interest that fills us with pure joy – something that makes us who we are, singular and distinct from anyone else. What if your lasting legacy is sharing that interest, passing along the simple pleasures of this life?

Make time today to consider the legacy you wish to leave behind. Listen more than you speak, ask questions rather than offering pat answers, slow down when tempted to speed up. Refrain from judgment – judging takes time away from loving, and is far above your pay grade anyway. Be present to those you love, those who you encounter in daily life, and especially those who rub you the wrong way. Each one is sent to share your journey and stimulate growth. Offer what you have learned when asked and be humble enough to learn from those who may be wise beyond their years. Most of all, let us live this day and every day as if all we have to leave behind are our words, our actions, and most of all, our small acts of kindness.

Text by Connie Chintall ©2020, All Rights Reserved

Photo entitled ‘Lasting Legacy in Stone’ by Dave Archer©2020, used with his permission, All Rights Reserved. To see more photos of the Pines, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/BogIronOutdoors/

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