How do you hope to be remembered?
In a world starved for authenticity, for traditional values made new, for love that is real, a spiritual legacy can celebrate your life and make a real difference in others’ lives….
How do you hope to be remembered?
I read last week about a woman who only has a few weeks to live. Her local hospice offered to video her telling the story of her life. A few years ago I probably would have thought this was a wonderful idea – and it will still be a wonderful keepsake for her family. Now, as someone who has faced cancer along with the ravages of chemo and a stem cell transplant, I was almost repulsed by the idea of such a video.
During my battle – and it was a battle – I had no physical energy to eat, walk around the block, or even sit up for any length of time. My thought processes were equally depleted and even carrying a brief conversation was difficult. I could not have coherently recalled my history, experiences, values. And I certainly could not have imparted any meaningful wisdom during those months of struggling just to survive. Furthermore, my vanity cringes to imagine preserving my emaciated body and bald head forevermore on a video!
Why did she wait so late? Why do most of us? Is there a better solution for passing along what matters to us most?
“If our lives are to have lasting meaning, we must use them as a sacred link, consciously connecting the past and the future.” (Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies, Rachael Freed)
What is a spiritual legacy?
Traditional Hebrew “ethical wills” originated in biblical times as a way for fathers to bless their sons. (Read Genesis 49 about Jacob on his deathbed, surrounded by the next generation.) All of us have a deep need to be blessed by our parents and others we love. Contemporary wills are written by men and women of every age, not only to children, but to any loved ones and to future generations.
Writing a spiritual legacy is both a privilege and a responsibility of a life well lived. It gathers and preserves wisdom, love, and hope for others. This may include family history and stories, life-lessons, or expressions of blessing and gratitude. Realizing that families need clarity, ethical wills (or legacy letters) often accompany legal property wills and advance health care directives.
“A spiritual legacy is, simply put, the passing of wisdom from one person to another, and such a legacy is the single most important thing you have to give to someone you love.” (Creating a Spiritual Legacy, Daniel Taylor)
Why is this important?
At any age we should prayerfully consider our unique history, giving purpose to our daily lives and inspiring future generations. “When we harvest our ancestors’ values and can articulate our own, we can pass forward what really matters to the next generations.” (Rachael Freed)
Importance for you:
- a way to understand and celebrate your own history and express gratitude
- a way to articulate your values and impart your wisdom
- a sense of closure and completion, accomplishment and worth
- a way to be remembered for what is most important to you
- a sense of your life so you can positively face your own mortality
Importance for others:
- a way to share your experiences and even learn from them
- a sense of belonging in our fast-paced, mobile society
- a blessing to those you love
- a catalyst for significant family conversations about aging and dying
- a link in the chain of generations: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” (Greek Proverb)
Why does it seem so difficult to write?
As important as story-telling has been in my life, I have avoided this exercise for several reasons:
- I lead a busy life and assume that there will be time “later” for this kind of work.
- When is “later?” None of us know when we will face death. We may not have the luxury of “later” and need to stop procrastinating.
- I’m not a writer and fear trying to put such essential expressions into words.
- There are many options for preserving stories. Typing on the computer, writing in longhand, dictating, using photos and memorabilia in a scrapbook.
- I don’t have a very interesting story. I am not a Medal of Honor recipient, an Olympian, or a famous actor. Who would even want to hear my story?
- God’s repeatedly instructs us in scripture to “Remember” what God has done and to “Tell” the next generation. It offends God when we say that our lives are unimportant and that God’s works in our lives are insignificant. We never know how God may use our story in others’ lives.
How do I get started?
Your Legacy Matters: Harvesting the Love and Lessons of your Life, by Rachael Freed, will guide us in recognizing and sharing our stories, values, and wisdom. This group for men and women of all ages will meet once a month for ten months, times and dates to be decided by the group. You will be given reflections and writing suggestions between group sessions. Group meetings will include sharing our stories, writing tips, and guest speakers on a variety of related topics.
Cost is $250 for ten, two-hour sessions (or $28/month). As always, partial scholarships are available.
There are 3 spaces left in this small group, so come join us! Register here no later than next Friday, Sept. 26.