A Legacy Moment
Updated: Jul 31, 2018
I attended a funeral recently. The life being celebrated was that of a man who was the patriarch of a family that co-founded our church fifty years ago. His name is George. I knew George for about ten years. I sang in choir with him, attended Bible studies with him, occasionally enjoyed a church potluck or other event with George and his family. I didn’t know him as well as some others who attended his memorial, but I have my share of memories.
During the service, a number of people stood up to share their reminiscences of George. There were quite a few, and it took a while. One of the things that struck me, as I listened to each person talk about George, was that not one individual talked about his eighty-three years of life, or his fifty years as a member of our church. They spoke of particular incidents. Specific words spoken. Something that happened on a certain trip. Moments.
As I considered George’s legacy, it occurred to me: my own memories of him and the memories shared by others weren’t about the entirety of his life – they were about the moments. I suspect, had we been able to watch George’s reaction to the stories being shared, his face might have reflected surprise that those particular incidents were what people remembered. In fact, he might not have recalled every one of the moments himself. None of the memories shared, on their own, were necessarily significant; but they spoke of the impact that George made on those people in those moments.
I began to think about my own life, how I tend to view my legacy as the aggregate of things I have done and been a part of: a corporate career; a second career in non-profit work; a project completed; a volunteer position served; five years here; ten years somewhere else; a fulfilling marriage; a family raised. Yet, are those big picture perspectives really what I will be remembered for?
As I walked out of the church following George’s funeral it began to rain. I sat in my car and watched rain drops hit the pavement as puddles began to form. The drops continued to land on the surface of the puddles, each one making a small, almost insignificant splash, and each small splash creating a ripple that grew away from the point of impact. None of the rain drops alone seemed significant, but together they formed puddles which joined to make larger puddles, and the drops created ripples that expanded and overlapped. As I watched the influence of the rain on the surface of the water I began to realize that our legacies are the moments in our lives, some of which may seem very insignificant to us – some of which we may not remember at all – mere drops in the water that grow to ripples, eventually making an impact, like a wave against the shore.
What are the little, insignificant things you did today that might ripple
into a wave and make a difference for someone’s tomorrow.
What are your legacy moments?