It was the Saturday my dad had invited us all for lunch at the farm. “We don’t celebrate enough,” has been a recent refrain of his. What I think he’s talking about is creating memories that matter for us as a family (an idea that Chip and Dan Heath explained rather well in their book The Power of Moments.) So Dad has been coming up with more reasons than ever to get together with his kids and grand kids. This time it was to celebrate his spiritual birthday, a milestone that this year marked the point at which he’s spent half of his life spiritually alive.
Dad is typically a man of few words, but he made a point of sharing his faith story with us all before the meal. He talked about being baptized once and confirmed twice, yet still lacking in any genuine faith. Then at a particularly low point when he cried out to God, he experienced divine forgiveness.
Among those listening were some recently baptized or confirmed teens. He was pointing out that there is no such thing as an inherited faith – each individual has to make it his or her own. But they should know that those who’ve gone before them have left some footprints in which they can follow – not by being good enough, but by accepting the grace and forgiveness Christ offers.
As we left that day, Dad handed me envelopes with the boys’ names on them – to read when they get home, he said. We opened them as soon as we got in the car, before we were even out of the yard. The boys each pulled out a photocopy of their grandpa’s hand-written story. It was in cursive so I read Caleb’s copy aloud.
At seven and ten years of age, they’re able to grasp the main point. But I’m thankful for the hard copy, which they can read and reread if they choose. I have a hunch this little piece of their legacy is more meaningful to me than to them at this point, but my prayer is that the meaning grows as they age.