How Will They Remember You When You’re Gone?

October 25, 2013

This past week, I conducted a celebration of life service at a beloved church I serve. The packed sanctuary was a reminder to all who were present of this church member’s caring spirit. As we sat and heard stories from the family, one line stood out to me. One family member said, “She always wanted to remind us that we were never too old to dance in the kitchen.”

The theologian Frederick Buechner writes this about remembering:

When you remember me, it means you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner, comp. George Connor (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1992), 14.

How do you want to be remembered?

Do you want to be called a memory over your accolades or wealth? Do you want to be remembered because you were the best at something, whatever that something might be? Or do you want to be recalled as someone who dances in the kitchen? Friends, our mark on this world is important. When we leave a place either by choice or death or other circumstances, we will be remembered. What do you want to commit to posterity?

The God who created us and loves us wants us to create memories and be a part of memories that make a difference in this world. It was Mother Teresa who said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” What might happen if that became our mindset in the creation of memories?

This week, challenge yourself to leave a legacy worthy of the love God has given you. I’m reminded of the words of an old camp song: “That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it, you spread the love to everyone, you want to pass it on.” We are all called to pass on the legacy of grace and hope to everyone we come in contact with.

Most important, remember that you are a beloved part of God’s creation and you will be remembered. Throughout the course of your daily life, continue to remember those people who have impacted you, those people who have given you permission to dance in the kitchen or sing while no one is around. For those people are the light of life and the hope of the resurrection of our souls and our memories. Take heart, people of God, for even when we dance in the kitchen, we are living out God’s plan for our lives.

This post originally appeared in the Statesville Record, and was published in The Pulpit & the Paper: A Pastor’s Coming of Age in Newsprint by Robert W. Lee.

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