All’s Well That Ends Well.

As much as I would like to take it back, I wrote what I did the other day about my family of origin because it was true.  That won’t make it less real.  But, that said, my father is dead and gone and he left us to sort out our lives without him.  That is what I am attempting to do, sort out my life, but I realize that I cannot keep talking about it.  I have to do something to move on.

I love my sisters and Mother dearly.  Whatever happens, I simply want them to know that. And like my dear sister said to me today she is not my father.  I must do something to move on.

It isn’t that easy to move on.  First we must heal.  Then we must figure out how to live!  We must face the fact that we are creating our own legacy.

These conversations about family legacy force this question:  What do I want to leave my precious children with when I am gone?  

Here are a few things I thought of today in no particular order:

  • I want my kids to feel like home is a safe place.  This means I will be there when they cry, listen when they talk to me, offer advice or just an ear when they have a problem they don’t understand.  I want to be available for them day-to-day.
  • I want my kids to know that they can change anything about their life and they have personal power. That they are in control of their bodies and can eat healthily, exercise and keep in control of their weight.  I must teach this by my example. (Sigh.)
  • I want my kids to know they have the intelligence to accomplish anything they set their mind to if they are willing to work hard.
  • I want my kids to feel that our home was a welcoming place for others — their friends, our friends, even strangers.  If so then our home should be a place where anyone is welcome, anytime. My kids need so see me listening attentively to my elderly neighbor with love and respect, bringing a meal to a sick friend or neighbor, opening my heart and our home and welcoming others in.  That means keeping the house tidy and if it isn’t “clean enough” then lighten-up.  Relationships are more important.
  • I want to pass on our love for music, literature and the arts, so I need to think about creating spaces in our life that cultivates this. This means setting aside time intentionally for bedtime reading (before they or I are falling into bed dead tired). This will mean buying tickets to the symphony and visiting more museums and shows.  Showing them this great love that we have.
  • I want to pass on my passion for social, racial and gender justice and live my life in such a way they understand how important it is. I want it to be as natural and right to them as breathing.
  • We want to live our lives so that our children know how important it is to treat every person with dignity, kindness and respect.
  • I want to regularly and passionately affirm the good in my children — not superficial qualities but those things that are a part of your core person.  
  • We want our children to have empathetic hearts so that they see other’s needs and willingly, lovingly meet them.
  • I want our children to know that being a follower of Jesus was the central motivation for my life and that knowing and loving Yahweh changed me.  It transformed me and made me the person that I am and it set my life’s priorities.

Whether we set aside time to consider it and be intentional, or not, we are building a legacy for our children every day in how we treat one another and prioritize our time and money.  Even so we have no control over what our children remember about us.  My father would certainly be heartbroken to know what I recall most about him — the yelling more than the hugs, the disappointment I thought he expressed to me over the affirmations that also came.  

What will we be remembered for and what will we leave behind?  I only have a few more years with my children under my roof.   I want to keep thinking about this.  When my children are remembering Tom and me, what will their most powerful memories be? What about you?  How do you hope your children, family and community will remember you? 

[lenten series] thou mayest in me behold

Mary Magdalene, after a painting by Ary Scheff...
Image via Wikipedia

lent.  a time to slow down.  to peer into your own soul.  to face what you have become. a time for less activity and busyness.  to thaw from winter.  to feel the warmth  and hope of  spring.  lent. it is moments of listening, seeking, searching, clearing, hoping, resting — lent is a time of forgiving and healing.

Yes, I am still a parent, spouse, child, employee, and friend.  But I am more aware that I am a Child of God during Lent.

February 17th is Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day Lenten period.

Many have heard that during Lent it is traditional to give up or let go of something (or several things) that we wonder about its importance to us — perhaps something that is becoming too important we fear.   I have given up different things over the years during Lent, but like New Year’s Resolutions I have found this difficult to follow through with and so it becomes an area of guilt.  when I do not keep my “promise” to myself then I shove it into the “corner of my soul”  where guilt and shame gather in a messy pile.  And I try to forget I ever made that promise to myself — or — to GOD.

Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God — Martin Luther

I have never done a true Lenten fast (I don’t actually know what it is.)  But I have chosen 40 days without television, caffeine or chocolate.  Or cussing, I tried that once.  Didn’t last long.

Then I read somewhere that Lent could be less about giving up something and more about adding a discipline to our daily lives for 40 days.  That started me thinking and wondering.  Do I listen well to God?

LISTENING — St. Frances of Assisi

It is good to pray in community, with one or two trusted friends and those are rich times.  But I have found most intimate and mystical, at times miraculous, the times of prayer in solitude.  Not usually petitioning, but quiet moments to listen.  Why then do I rarely find time alone for communicating and communing with God?  That is a great mystery.

St. Frances  “wondered aloud to God, asking many searching questions. Was his whole life a mistake? Why had he survived serious illness when others had not? Francis came to know his heart very well, and he accused it of every possible hint of selfishness. His restless spirit understood the psalmists’ passion.”

“Francis returned to the most basic spiritual questions. Toward the end of Francis’ life, one of his eavesdropping friends overheard him asking plaintively: “Who are you, my dearest God? And what am I?” His contemplation never steered far from a consciousness of his own sinfulness.  (Walking through Lent with St. Frances of Assisi by Jon M. Sweeney)

Some time over this Lenten period find the solitude of a hiking trail in the woods to take a long walk or an old empty church to sit in quietly.

DARK OF THE NIGHT

There are times when my soul gets restless.  I begin to get a whiff of God speaking to me, but I am a thick-sculled person and I do have trouble listening — hearing — so I begin to fret, and lose sleep, and get angry, and agitated.  And then, God wakes me up in the night.  The last times this happened I woke up at 3:00 am, four days in a row.  Finally I got the message (I told you I’m a spiritual dolt at times.) I got up, began to write and God led me to an awareness of my need to forgive.  A ten-year old grievance.  A deep-set bitterness that I had both neglected and in some ways forgotten.  An old, scarred-over wound.  An area I had put in that “corner of my soul”  where guilt and shame gather.  I had tried to forget but GOD would not allow it.

The dark of the night is one of the best times for supplication and crying out.  Beyond the ghosts shame and guilt in our soul — there is the trinity waiting.  They call and then wait.  And as we open our hearts, they heal.

So I will seek time quiet to be alone this Lenten season — quietly listening and I will add a discipline to my life in the morning and evening.

By doing the latter, naturally some things will fall by the wayside.  Time scouring the internet for that thing which has become a god of late, knowledge and information.  I will give it up only by replacing it with mornings and evenings of contemplation.  Perhaps reading the prayers of St. Francis or other spiritual people.  I suppose you can stay tuned.

Lent begins February 17th, Ash Wednesday.  Plenty of time to consider your own disciplines.

“Thou mayest in me behold” — William Shakespeare

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