Turning 65 has not been as traumatic as I imagined it would be when I was younger, but I have begun to think about the time I have left and my legacy.
Certainly being 65 today is much different than it was for my parents and grandparents. I recently found a picture of my beloved maternal grandparents. They both look so old, yet when the photo was taken they were younger than I am today. Maybe I am in denial – I may really look as they did, but I don’t think so.
In any case, when I saw their picture I thought of their legacy: my mother and her brothers and all the grandkids. My parents and their siblings are gone, as are two of my cousins who I grew up with, but my siblings are all alive and three of us have children, with some grandkids either present or on the way.
Sadly, just like I didn’t know my great or great great grandparents, our children and their children didn’t know my grandparents. So I have tried to share the stories about their legacies as I think it is important for them to hear and know about the people who made them possible.
My wife wears my grandmother’s engagement ring; it is very special. When I touch it, I remember the time we (my grandmother and I) spent together – just talking. So, I share the stories of “Gramma” and how special she was with my daughter. I hope my daughter will pass these stories on to whoever might wear Gramma’s ring at her death many many years from now.
I have also thought about how I want to support the organizations that have shaped me; there are three. The first is St. Louis University (http://www.slu.edu/college-church), an educational institution that opened my eyes and mind, and equipped me intellectually.
The second is a place I hold near and dear as it’s where my spiritual journey began: Enders Island in Mystic, CT (https://www.vimeo.com/99485915). At one point early on I entered religious life intending to be a “brother” as opposed to a priest. While I did not stay, the time spent studying and in contemplative life began a life-long journey of seeking to better understand God and live a good life.
The third organization I want to support is the Moravian Ministries Foundation (www.mmfa.info), the place where I have been able to experience the words of St. James when he tells us “faith without works is dead.”
The legacy I intend to leave behind is not about me, but each of these “ministries” and wanting to forever express my gratitude and the hope that their work will continue. So I have created a fund that will come to life at my death and provide annual gifts to St. Louis University, Enders Island and the Foundation.
So, as you read this, I hope you will reflect on your legacy: the people who made you, the people you love, and the places and organizations that influenced and shaped you in positive ways. We are only alive for a short time in the world’s history, but we are part of a long chain, and I believe we are called to leave what we found better.