Thoughts on Legacy

I have been thinking a lot. It started with the 24-hour drive back from our family’s Florida vacation, and has continued into the blistering cold of Minnesota’s wind-chill, snow days and tea by the fireplace. I have been thinking about what will matter most when I am old, and my children have their own children.

I have been thinking a lot about legacy. It seems only fitting to continue the reflection into this Martin Luther King weekend. Remembering the legacy of Dr. King.

The origin of the word is around money. A legacy (historically) was the inheritance you left to your next of kin; it was patriarchal in nature. It could also refer to something handed down from past generations, representing and, or preserving ancestry.

We played a car game during our straight-shot drive to Florida, called “Would you rather”. Besides learning that my husband would rather fly than be invisible, I also learned that he would rather have people show up to his funeral vs. his wedding.

“Would you rather have no one show at your wedding, or no one show at your funeral?”

My maternal grandmother was one of the first Black women to work at the Pentagon. She was a graduate of Howard University and an AKA member. She changed careers mid-life and became an AME pastor, leading several congregations throughout the Midwest. She married one of the first Black Sergeant Majors in the U.S. Marine Corp and has an accomplished daughter who leads for a national non-profit and is entrepreneurial. My grandmother is an inspiration to me, and a reminder of God’s life changing grace.

There were 10 people at her funeral.

But her legacy is great.

I want people to come to my funeral. I just don’t want that to be my life goal—an impressive number of people who mourn me. It would be like wanting a superbowl ring, but instead of joining the NFL, you learn to cast iron and make a look-a-like. Haven’t you missed the richness of the thing?

I don’t want to be so focused on people remembering me a certain way, that I cannot simply focus on people. Isn’t that the point?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13)

Who knows the mind of God?

Maybe the love God calls me too, is simple and small, and flies under the radar of man’s praise. If my name is forgotten here, it is never forgotten in the kingdom of heaven.

And maybe in living like this, lots of people will show at my funeral. Who knows?

There weren’t too many mourners at Christ’s crucifixion. And I don’t think Dr. King would feel any less about his life, if not one person showed to his funeral.

The funeral was far from the point.

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