Monday, August 4, 2008

Leaving a Legacy of Faith – Part One of Three - Leona

There is much talk these days about what it means to leave a legacy. Perhaps that is because we Boomers are actually beginning to understand our own mortality. In this month alone we have buried one friend and heard of three more who recently received dire, perhaps terminal, diagnoses.

It makes one begin to wonder how long one has to live a life that will not just be missed, but will be remembered as significant. We call that leaving a legacy – a gift to the next generation that reflects the essence of our life, our values, our faith, our standards and principles, our experience, our lessons, and our deep spiritual beliefs. A legacy has been defined as a connection down through the ages – something that will always be associated with a person’s existence.

The legacy passed on to me. I was born in 1951, which plops me right in the camp of Baby Boomers. I was raised in a Christian family, learned all of the Bible stories via the flannel graph board and had 13 years worth of perfect attendance bars on my Sunday School pin. I attended countless potlucks, played the accordion for “special music” in Sunday evening service, and faithfully went to Youth “Singspirations.” I was raised in an environment where Christian faith was foundational to our lives and church was central.

One of the dearest people in my life was my Grandma Thomas. We lived on a little piece of land on the corner of their small 7.5 acre farm in Wheatridge, Colorado. There was a bean patch that separated our houses, but my grandpa just so happened to plant in such a way that there was a path right through the patch that connected us. I traveled that path regularly and often throughout the day so that I could get to Grandma’s house.

I still think of my Grandma often even though she has been with the Lord for over a decade. I particularly remember her during times of planting and of harvest. Grandma was a farmer and harvest was the time when the benefit of her hard work was realized. I always loved the harvest! It seemed like there were unending amounts of luscious crops! When I was a child I took the abundance of beans, corn, apples, strawberries and raspberries for granted – I thought it all came so easily! But over the years as I grew up and expanded my understanding of life, I began to learn the lessons Grandma wanted to teach me about all the work it took to have a bountiful harvest.

Grandma taught me that seeds had to be carefully selected and purchased; that the dark, rich soil had to be tilled and prepared for planting; that the seeds had to be planted at just the right depth, spaced just right – and in straight rows! Then there was the irrigating, hoeing and covering the delicate plants in a hailstorm. And, of course, weeding! All this BEFORE we got to bite into a juicy cob of corn!

Grandma also taught me about the meaning of long life and to honor those who were old. I picked berries with my old (really old) aunts who wore funny button-up black shoes and sunbonnets in the fields. They had interesting faces, smelled funny and had fascinating stories to tell. Their impact on my life was profound, and I think of them often as I have dedicated my life to serving older adults.

What I learned most from my Grandma was to trust the God of the Harvest. My Grandma was not a preacher (usually) or an evangelist. She was a little farm woman from Wheatridge! But she planted seeds of faith in each one of us who knew her.

When Grandma died there was no doubt that she would be missed. But her legacy was indisputable. Her life consisted of planting seeds for harvest. They were seeds of faith that are still producing fruit in the generations living today.

They are seeds of faith that continue to sprout in my life. And now I am an older woman, and a grandma! There are no bean patches between me and my grandsons (unless you can call I-5 a bean patch), but I must find ways to clear paths to my house and my life and share with them those seeds of faith that make up my legacy.
(Photo #1 by pictoscribe: #2 by Supercapacity, Flickr)

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