The day I went to a funeral, celebrated my birthday, and attended a wedding.
“A lot of my friends are dying. I don’t know if I even want a funeral when I die. Can I do that? Is that allowed?” Asked my elderly friend. I think she was mostly joking, but there was an honest question in there. She was looking for an answer from her pastor. My answer to her was full of pastoral wisdom, “You will have to talk to your family about that.” Call it dodging a question if you want. I call it wisdom. She just looked at me and said, “That’s all you got for me? I was hoping for some advice.” We both laughed. Apparently too much. We decided we should quiet down; the funeral was about to start. It was 11 am on June 1st.
The family of the deceased began walking into the service and I was not prepared for what happened next. The family came in one after another and filled row after row after row after row. It was incredible. There were 9 children, 28 grandchildren, and 40+ great-grandchildren accredited to this man who had lived 97 years on this earth. When you add in the in-laws and aunts and uncles the numbers grew! It was truly Incredible.
When the time came for the eulogy one person came up to speak. The family had written their thoughts down on paper and had accumulated over 45 pages of stories and memories! They narrowed it down to an inspiring 10 minute eulogy. I don’t remember a whole lot that happened after that moment. All I could think of was one simple word. Legacy.
“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.” Psalm 145:4.
This individual left a legacy to his children. He proclaimed God’s power to those he left behind. I watched as the great-grandkids got up and sang “Amazing Grace.” Many of them were shedding a tear, but all of them were joyful. They were honoring a person who was obviously a big part of their lives. Someone who left a legacy for them to follow.
It was at this point that I remembered I was celebrating my 36th birthday that very day. Really all that means to me is I am now closer to 40 than 30. Woohoo for me. I was encouraged later that day because someone thought that I was 25! This is mostly due to the fact that I can’t grow a beard and so I have a perpetual baby face. It’s a blessing and a curse. But I digress.
I began thinking about my 36 years of life on earth and my mind quickly went to questions about the legacy I would leave. How would I be remembered? Would people say kind words about me? Would my family fill up half of the church at my funeral? Will I be remembered as a loving husband, a kind father, and a generous friend?
All of these questions remain unanswered. How I live my life from this moment on will determine how those questions will be answered.
When the funeral was over, I drove with my family to Davenport for a wedding that would take place the next day. We spent the night celebrating my birthday, eating, and swimming with family and friends. It was a relaxing and wonderful time. The next day we swam and ate some more! At 2 pm on Saturday, I sat with family and friends as I witnessed a young couple saying "I do."
I again had a moment of reflection. I reflected on that moment in my life 13 years ago when I said those same words. I did not have a Catholic wedding like this couple, but the words that we said were the same. Two young people were committing to grow old together. Two young people were committing to build a legacy - together.
And there it was. In one day, 27 hours to be exact, I went to a funeral, celebrated my birthday, and attended a wedding. The thought that kept rolling around in my head was legacy. I am reminded of a quote from the movie Gladiator, "What we do in life echoes in eternity."
What I do in this life follows me into the next. What I do in this life carries on to those still on this earth. Not only that, but there are people today who are leaving a legacy for me. The love they have, the wisdom they share, and the choices they make affect my life in profound ways.
Until Monday, Josh