A dear friend faced the gut-wrenching challenge and responsibility of eulogizing his father, tragically taken away too soon. With courage, passion and deepest respect he entered the moment, bringing with him a family history, a family legacy he described this way: “a legacy that my grandmother called ‘the red blood of the pioneers’ –- a legacy born of centuries working the soil, the fortitude to keep walking forward in the face of the inertia of the world.”
To know this man is to know that this legacy is not about him, it is him. To know him is to understand, without ever hearing the words, that he is the pioneer, the present chapter of a long and fascinating story. The evidence of it – his work, values, motivations and adaptations – so compelling, so true. He is living out the best of his lineage as he is opening up to the harder questions it also contains.
There is weight and power in both acknowledging and accepting my inheritance. How is it present in me today? In what ways might I strengthen and advance the storyline through my beliefs, commitments and actions?
I am the son of clergy, teachers and doctors; naval officers and farmers. I see in myself the impassioned preacher, both faithful and questioning. I see the confidant and the bedside manner if not the scientific aptitude. I see the respect for ritual and protocol, the keeper of traditions. I see a cultivator and a catalyst.
And while I am proud and honored to live out these attributes, they are only part of the story. I also have within me aspects of my inheritance that I feel responsible to change. Living in me are some hard truths about what came before that can either be confronted now or passed along to my children. Though my lineage may be unchangeable its future progression is in my hands. As it continues I have a profound opportunity to influence the feel and focus of its forward path. By doing so, I honor those who came before by applying the lessons of the present to the patterns of the past.
© 2010 David Berry