WHEN YOUR CARBON CRUMBLES and your casket lies locked in the dirt, what will be left of you here?
I’ve been wondering about that lately. Not that I have plans to crumble anytime soon. But I do have family and friends who are living life fragile these days. Diagnoses that shatter.
One thing that bums me is how fleeting our influence seems to be.
Take John Wayne. Biggest movie star of my childhood. My kids don’t even know him.
So go ahead, pick your favorite star today. Then imagine the probability that the next generation of swimmers in your gene pool won’t know that soul from a reality show dropout.
If a star that shines that bright can fade to black so quickly, what about us little ol’ lightning bugs?
One reason I write is to capture light and wrap it up in a word. Yet words are just flickers in the night, more often than not.
When I was younger, I used to write songs and accompany them with a guitar, as private devotions. And when our kids were babies, I’d make up songs to sing to them. Recently I’ve actually taken the time to record them. Privately. I mean, for heaven’s sake, I’m a singer best kept in the choir and not turned loose on a microphone. Yet I feel a need to preserve the songs before they’re lost.
I can’t imagine why. If you heard them, you’d wonder why, too.
What’s going on here? Is it a remnant of the image of God?
“Do this to remember me,” (Luke 22:10). That’s Jesus talking at the Last Supper.
Even he wanted to leave something of himself behind. That’s how we Christians got what is perhaps our most sacred worship ritual, known by various names: communion, Mass, the Eucharist.
I want to leave something of myself behind, too. Something good and godly.
I can’t believe my music will endure. I’d have to publish it first, and that’s not going to happen. So relax.
As for my books, I can’t imagine they would endure even though they’re published. I write, on purpose, in a style of English that is contemporary and fleeting. Even Shakespeare goes out of style for normal people (English teachers are so not normal).
I’m not sure those are legacies I’d most prefer to leave behind anyhow.
When my crumbled carbon lies cold and still, probably wearing a suit though I spurn them while I breathe, I think the legacy I’d most prefer to leave behind would be a collection of scenes I’d want to watch from heaven, if I’m allowed to peek.
It might come as a surprise to you, as it did to me when I started thinking about it, but a scene of someone reading one of my books doesn’t even make my Top Ten.
What I’d like to see even more:
- If children are in the future of my kids, I’d love to see my daughter singing to a child of hers like I used to sing to her. But in the right key.
- Or my son going to every ballgame and ball practice and band concert and everything else his kids get into.
- Or the family I’ve left behind enjoying the company of one another.
- And, from time to time, someone looking up at me and saying, “I miss you.”
The wake behind my trail.
I’d be long gone, but still shaking things up, ever so slightly.
I’d like that.
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