October is my favorite month of the year and this week... when leaves are at their peak... when woodsmoke fills the air... when a foggy haze clings close to the soil on my neighbor's farm... all come together to bring great joy to my heart and soul.
Tears filled my eyes as I walked the gravel road to the rural mailboxes yesterday. I was overwhelmed by surrounding beauty to such an extent, my finite mind could hardly take it all in. No wonder God gives us such a brief season of "peak" autumn as the brilliance overwhelms our senses. If we lived in these surroundings for months of the year would we begin to take it all for granted and not breath it all in as we do when it last but moments?
For the October scenery can change in an instant when the tree in the backyard the color of flames becomes bare by afternoon as the strong winds blow through the forest. One must grab their camera and take pictures in the moment or the opportunity slips away if one waits until the breakfast dishes are in the red drainer.
I don't know why it has long been that this season causes me to think of family and generations and the legacy we leave behind. Perhaps it reminds me that all of nature has life and death in cycles so apparent as dry leaves cover the yard? That which is now and that which will be and how we are remembered... I think of it as the red barn across the road can now be seen through half-bare trees when last week it was hidden.
This year the ponderings are even more pressed upon my mind as we so recently spent time with children and grandchildren. I was startled as
I watched Elisabeth and thought how much she reminds me of her father and his mother. Faith loves flowers like my dad and Matthew can get that same twinkle in his eye as my mother when she was "up to something".
David's personality is much like Christopher at the same age, I wanted to take a long walk just "Grammie and her Hobbit" and talk about the wonders of the world but the quick passing of days gave us only moments of serious conversation.
My children were raised by parents with flaws, who brought with them into the covenant of their vows the scars of their own childhood. The legacy of my husband's parents is greatly tarnished by their harsh words and critical attitudes. Neither of them brought the cushion of warm and fuzzy to the other.
How different my own childhood and teenage years, filled with trauma and uncertainty but baptized in the love of a mother which ran so deep, I came through them with just the very slightest of scars and I still miss her every day of my life.
Love truly covers a multitude of sins... my father-in-law mellowed through the years and was totally smitten with his little Stephanie who has fond memories of her Grandpa. He lived long enough to hold the infant Christopher in his arms and I have often told my son how much his father's father would have enjoyed knowing him... the child who inherited his hands on genius.
Sometimes we must remind the generations which follow of the good legacy they have inherited, especially if the first memories of a person are flawed. We all must be willing to give grace and mercy if we want to receive them from others... which my husband has heard for years from his warm and fuzzy wife... raised by a mother whose flaws were covered by love.
My grandchildren are typical of those from this country with heritages of German, Norwegian, Italian, English... and I'm certain another culture here and there... all combining to make them one hundred percent American. :)
But what is the most important legacy we can hand the next generation? That of a deep faith in the God of the Bible... a love for His Word... an understanding of Faith and Grace and Forgiveness... knowing that Peace is a Person... that they will find themselves swimming against the flow of the postmodern culture as they stand firm that Jesus is the Way and the Truth and the Life.
Then Grammie would add a love for that which is lovely and good literature and tea time while Granddad would wish they loved the Chicago Bears instead of the New England Patriots but gives them grace (reluctantly) to follow the culture of their father and paternal grandfather. :)
As I look back through the years, the realization comes that a legacy is built a little at a time... precept upon precept... day upon day... decision upon decision... and that one does leave a legacy upon the next generations... for better or worse.
What if we were left a flawed legacy? Only a life transformed by the Grace of the Lord can wipe away the imperfect and form a new heart... as He did for me in my teenage years... creating a healed soul and taking the broken pieces of a young life... putting them together to form a young woman whom He can use on this journey.
While life is still in us... we must make the choice that our legacy will be one of love and grace and faith and the freedom to let our children take what they have learned in our home and become the people God created them to be... the Daniels and the Esthers of this generation.
That is their true legacy... that is the journey which God intended.