Step by Step

I saw a father and son walking side by side down the street today. The 2-year-old boy charged blissfully through ankle deep grass, his head down, his focus intent on each exaggerated step. The father walked at his side, his pace steady, his gaze fixed upon the road ahead. The child obviously thrilled with the journey, enjoying both the freedom his father allowed and the envelope of implicit love that surrounded him. Meanwhile, the father watched for potential danger and made sure they stayed on course.

What I saw in that instant was a legacy of love.

We often follow in the footsteps of a parent or mentor, trusting those who have gone before us, benefiting from their wisdom and compassion. Sometimes, when we are really fortunate, these loved ones bequeath even more than a living legacy; sometimes they leave treasured mementos. A box filled with letters and war medals; a cedar chest filled with handmade quilts; a photo album filled with sepia-toned pictures.

Sometimes they leave a family estate behind as well, a home and property that must be cared for, rooms that pulse with cherished memories, flowers that continue to bloom with each passing season.

I have an afghan that my mother made for me. It is my garden estate, my castle-in-the-country inheritance. Every time I run my fingers over its patchwork surface I’m reminded of the fact that she passed away ten years ago and that she left very little behind. Even her own memories evaporated, one by one, in her later years.

She went on ahead, into some mythic land of sunlight and dappled shadow, yet this blanket remained behind with me. She chose the colors, she bought the yarn, she transformed it into a thing of beauty. And then she gave it to me. A few eternal moments before she charged boldly ahead into the great unknown, forging a path of faith for those of us who were left behind.

She is there now, on the other side, resting with the God who made her. Waiting. Patient. For her lifetime-legacy of love to return to her.

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