The cairn as a legacy that remains after we have gone.
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments
but what is woven into the lives of others.
Today we think of the cairn as a legacy we leave behind. What do you hope to include in your legacy cairn? How would you like to be remembered?
The cairns we encounter on our hiking paths give us little information about the builder. We usually do not know who built the cairn, or when. We only know that someone passed this way before us, wanted to designate a moment or place as special, and in turn, blessed us.
It is humbling to realize that in a hundred years or so, we will most likely be only remembered by our name, when and where we lived, and perhaps a photo or two. I long to be remembered, but I probably won’t be for more than a few generations. At times this reality has made me sad, but I also have discovered a new and joyous freedom…
Shortly after my cancer treatments, our family enjoyed a long-anticipated vacation at the Outer Banks. I celebrated this treasured time with such a grateful heart, but inwardly I also wondered, what if this is my last time? My combined gratitude and fear prompted me to take LOTS of photos. I wanted to record every precious moment as a tangible and enduring keepsake for my loved ones. Just in case...
One evening, we were thrilled to see dolphins frolicking in the ocean! We all stood side by side on the beach, watching with awe and wonder. At one point, I asked my son to turn and face me so I could get a photo of him. Kevin looked at me gently and said, “Mom, right now we are watching the dolphins.” He knew this was a rare moment; in turning away, he and I would miss the sheer joy of seeing these dolphins leap and dive together.
His words became an invitation to reexamine my legacy cairn. Will my stones be tangible ones, such as photos, journals, and souvenirs? Or will my stones be intangible ones – savoring our times together, being a loving and attentive presence, living my life in a way that my family will want to emulate?
In that one moment on the beach, our children and grandchildren were experiencing and absorbing some priceless legacy stones. The love we share within our diverse and unique family, brought together by more than birth or bloodline. The awe we have for creation and the need to care for it. The awareness we hold for the preciousness of life and the call to live it well. The appreciation we have for one another, and for the laughter, conversations, tenderness, and joy we share. We do not need detailed documentation or abundant photos for any of these to remain.
That is more than enough of a legacy for me.
What is truly important will remain, and that is LOVE. What we do now is what matters most. How our lives will live on in future generations is what we invest in those who are living now. Our names may never be said, but our love will continue. What we do each day for others will become our greatest legacy.
Love never ends…
And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:8,13 (NRSV)
(As you place your stone today, consider these words) “I place this stone as a commitment to leave a legacy of love, especially in these ways…”
God of eternal love,
Since the beginning of creation, your love has continued from generation to generation. Thank you for sharing your love with me and for giving me this precious and holy life. May I always humbly choose to set aside my need for recognition and my need to be remembered. Instead, may my life draw others to recognize and remember YOU. Help me to live in such a way that I leave a legacy of love for others, a legacy that will last, a legacy that will draw people to love – both you and one another. Amen.
(I am posting this a few days early for a friend.)
Next Monday’s cairn will be our last, A Destination Reached.