Monday, August 13, 2007

Life Legacies ...

Two weeks ago my uncle died. One month ago, over the summer break, a work colleague died. Two people. Very different lives.

My Uncle (Dig) was actually my great uncle. I loved him. He was a wonderful man. He was kind, gentle, loving, had a wicked sense of humour, loved nature and rugby and was an outstanding piano player. My uncle got to live a long life. He lived the 80+ years that we all feel we will get.

My work colleague's name was Yun Jin and she was a wonderful young woman full of promise. She loved God ... loved people ... had a lovely gentleness about her and there was not a mean bone in her body. She was a woman without guile. Yun Jin had a wonderful smile that lit up her face. She married another work colleague at the beginning of summer. Their lives stretched out before them and then the unspeakable happened on the way back from their honeymoon. There was a car crash. Yun Jin died after 20 days of marriage, leaving behind grieving loved ones. A life cut off.

When my father died at age 49, I learnt a little about death. Death strips away all the pretenses that we have. It brings us back to the raw. To the basics. We seem to have this expectation that we will get our 80+ years. The thing is that life is uncertain. We don’t know what it holds. Life is an amazing thing. It is beautiful, tragic, joyous, ugly, magical, wonderful, sad … Life is life. With all the joy and horror that can be found in each day … it’s life. We can not have the good parts and leave the rest. We all live and … we all die. It’s a certainty. The thing I learnt through my Father’s death is, it’s not about how many days we get. It’s about what we do with our days.

The loss of my Uncle and Yun Jin has caused me to think and reflect on something I have been thinking about over the past 4 – 5 months. Legacies. What are we building? What are you building? Yun Jin lives on. She poured her life into other people and left a legacy that will continue in the days, months and years to come. Her life is in her legacy. My Uncle lives on in his children and the lives he touched with his kindness, humility and humour.

What is life about really? Is it about the treasures that we store up … the riches? Or is it about love? What endures after we die? Treasures are often fought over … love? Love multiplies … it bears fruit … and … love endures.

What really matters? Love. The rest of life? … Its just frosting. We cannot shut ourselves off to love for the fear of hurt that comes. Life is about love … we are made to connect … we are made to love. We are also created to leave legacies in the lives we touch. One of my favourite questions over the past few months is to ask friends what legacy have they inherited from their parents lives? … From other significant folk in their lives? If I look at the legacy of my father and summed it up in one word (and there is so much more I could say) it would be Integrity. My mother’s legacy? Strength and the ability to travel lightly holding little in the way of grudges and offenses.

Jesus tells a story in Luke 12:15-21. It is a sober warning for us to think about what we are building. Take 5 minutes today to be still and reflect on your life. What are you building? If you were to die tonight … what legacy would YOU leave?


Brigitte said...

I have thought about this often, about my legacy. And i agree - life is about love. We created by a God who IS love, how could it be about anything else?

Karen said...

Yes so very true. It has been on my mind somewhat. A non christian friend's partner died suddenly in April, he was 44 totally fit and a sudden heart attack, then the same thing happened last weekend - my neighbour's brother aged 48, a sudden heart attack. They both leave behind small children under 6 years of age. So yes it has had me thinking on this level. Oh and I mean't to respond to another of your posts and a comment - I love a good steak, I love that you go deep!

Karen said...

I have nominated you for an award - see my latest blog posting..

Karen said...

Me again, Claire wanted you to know that she has mentioned your blog on her site.

Danifesto said...

GREAT questions Carpenter! It reminded me of one scene in "Six Feet Under" where a grieving woman asks the undertaker "Why do we die?" and after a long pause he responds "To give our life meaning."