How we are Remembered
“I am grateful to God.. whom I worship.. as my ancestors did..when I remember you constantly in my prayers… recalling your tears… I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois ..and now lives in you.” 2 Timothy 1:1-14
Do you sometimes think about what will be your legacy, how people will remember you? I think of Phillips Brooks, a legendary preacher, writer, social activist, innovator of modern architectural and liturgical tastes at Trinity Copley Square in Boston, briefly bishop of Massachusetts before his early death at age 58. When you see his life size statue at Trinity Boston you realize what a formidable, physically imposing man he was, six feet four inches tall. Of all his accomplishments, he is now most remembered for one short poem he wrote one night on a visit to the Holy Land, O Little Town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.
What is your O Little Town of Bethlehem, your life, your word, spoken in poem, by which you will be remembered?
What about John Chrysostom, named a golden-mouth preacher of his day in the early church, archbishop of Constantinople, recognized among the Three Holy Fathers, with Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus? Those who read Morning Prayer say his prayer of St. Chrysostom near the closing of the service each morning, “you have promised that when two or three are gathered together in his Name you will be in the midst of them.” That is how we remember him.
What is your Prayer of St. Chrysostom by which people will remember you when “two or three or gathered?’
Remember St. Francis who is honored each October 4th with the blessing of our beloved animals. He changed the church’s view on our ministry to the poor and the sacredness of God in Nature, but he is still best remembered for his prayer just attributed to St. Francis. “Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.” So, we still do not even know if he ever wrote it.
What is your Prayer of St. Francis, your relationship that brought peace, the love by which you will be remembered?
My Grandparents, Joe and Annie Whaley, whom by the way I am named after mostly raised me. They nurtured me and cared for me and loved me without conditions. My greatest memory of my grandmother, however, is one single event occurring one of the days I went back to college in another state. I always go to say goodbye to my grandparent at their nearby home on my way out of town. I only stay a few minutes. This day my grandmother is playing canasta with her sisters. I kiss her goodbye and leave. Then I remember I have forgotten something. Today I have no memory of what it was. I go back to their house and my grandmother is not at the card table. I ask her sisters, “Where is she?” After a pause my Aunt Julia whispers, “She went upstairs to her bedroom to cry. She misses you so much when you are gone.”
Even though my grandparents are my real caretakers when I am growing up, I spend very little time with them on these infrequent visits home from college. I am always absorbed with my friends or work I bring home. Suddenly I am acutely aware how much my grandmother loves me. I run up the stairs, hug her one more time, and witness her love embarrassed by her tears. I can still feel today that love my grandmother showed me with her secretly concealed bedroom tears.
Where are your tears of love by which you will be remembered?
It is possible that you may be most remembered like my grandmother for just one small act of love.
What we remember most is relationships we had with others, their acts, their words, their prayers, and how our relationships with them changed our lives and most of all connected us to the God of our understanding of love.