Well, here we are. The final day of this Lenten Season in which we have been "counting our days." Holy Saturday. A quiet day. No services today in our congregation. It's a day in-between Good Friday and Easter Sunday...between death and resurrection.
The truth is we live the entirety of our lives in "Holy Saturday time"....all too aware of the reality of death and demise, immersed in the truth that all good things come to a dead end...but, at the same time, there is a longing within us that will not die. We are unable to dismiss the rumors of Resurrection. And so, together, against all the odds, we remain open to an impossible possibility. In faith, hope, and love, we await the Third Day. And that makes all the difference.
Today's word is LEGACY--the final word in Sister Joan's list of words and reflections on "The Gift of Years" and what it means to grow older gracefully. She writes, "What we are inclined to forget is that each of us leaves a legacy, whether we mean to, whether we want to or not. Our legacies are the quality of the lives we leave behind. What we have been will be stamped on the hearts of those who survive us for years to come...What are we leaving behind? That is the question that marks the timbre of a lifetime."
What do our lives add up to? How will we be spoken of when we are gone? That's a sobering thought. Honestly, I don't know.
What I do know, and know well--having officiated at countless funerals and memorial services--are the legacies others have left. Having been in a position to overhear many others reflect on how their lives have been indelibly formed by a loved one now gone, here is what I have learned about what counts: it's not one's professional achievements (as notable and worthy as they might be), it's not the amount of money that remains to be distributed (at least, no one EVER talks about that), and it's not even how few failings, mistakes, or derailments may have marked one's life course.
It's always (in one way or another) about how well they loved those nearest to them, how often they showed kindness to strangers, how they stood by, what they stood for, their capacity for grace and forgiveness, their resistance to despair and their inclination to hope, their laughter as well as what brought them to tears, their compassion for the suffering of others, their way of paying attention to small things with great love. These are among the things that most often get recounted by others when one's days are done.
Such things are the legacy of a life awaiting the Third Day.