photo by Insideways
I wandered through the unfamiliar white room in a daze, picking up the trinkets on the shelves that lined the walls and almost immediately setting them back down, simultaneously wiping hot tears across my sleeve. I browsed the foggy room for what seemed like a continual eternity, watching others that were seemingly adept in their choice of trinket to take home with them. How could I choose one thing? Just one. One thing to remind me of a life lost, a life cut too short.
When the dream began, I had been in the next room at a funeral service for my friend Luke. The memorial service merged into this unfamiliar room in which the unspoken objective was to take one thing that had belonged to the deceased and “check out” with his mom. I had the overwhelming feeling that the one thing you chose was supposed to represent Luke and his life to you. I picked up and replaced item after item, not knowing how you could choose just one thing to represent a life – a person’s legacy.
I knew Luke in a way that only summer camp can afford. As Christian camp counselors, we guided young hearts and minds to deeper faith while simultaneously thrashing out the woes of teenybopper angst and encouraging a love of nature. We shared inside jokes and immense amounts of laughter as a result of a similar sense of humor. We bonded over a love of all things having to do with the beach. Weekends between sets of campers were a chance for us to ask deeper questions, finding that we could banter about serious issues while still harboring respect for the other.
But fairy tales are best in the storybook. At least in this case.
Summer camp season ended, and we both went our separate ways. Our hometowns were only thirty minutes apart, but life has a way of getting in the way. August rolled around, and we headed to different colleges in the same town, but all that afforded us was a few visits and a plethora of phone conversations. The real world crashed in. Nothing [nothing] can replicate summer talks under the stars.
I received a phone call from a shared friend mid-summer following my freshmen year of college. He told me in a strained voice to check the day’s obituaries in the paper.
Luke, my Luke, had taken his own life.
I had just talked to him less than two weeks before.
My young, naïve life went into a tailspin. I attended the afternoon wake at the beach he called home, but I honestly can’t remember anything that was said. I wandered the sand aimlessly afterwards, staring blankly out to sea until the gulls bedded down for the night. The rest of that summer I turned into one angry lady, blasting my hard rock and basically living at his stretch of beach between work shifts. I came in the wee hours of the morning, only to head back out again as the sun peeked over the horizon.
At the conclusion of the summer, I packed Luke and all he was to me and placed that suitcase in the attic of my mind.
I don’t know what prompted the dream about him the other night – it’s been well over a decade since I gave up Luke. Perhaps it is the season of faith I’m in, or the things that God keeps placing in my life to remind me that I am here for a purpose. Remember January? God clearly told me that this year I am to be: reckless. Reckless for Him.
God chose a significant event from my past to start a personal dialogue about legacy. I have a legacy. You have a legacy. God placed each and every one of us into this earth and onto our specific GPS point for a reason. When our work on earth is done, Lord willing, we should have trinkets of legacy to pass on to our loved ones and even those “to the ends of the earth.” Not for the betterment or publicity of selfish standards, but a legacy of Godliness that makes those affected: stop, remember, and further their journey with Holy recklessness.
I want my epitaph to read like William Borden’s, a missionary to Muslims in China:
So here’s to leaving a Godly legacy.
May you be blessed with experiences and wisdom that demonstrate God’s glory to further the Kingdom. Sink yourself into the work He has called you to, and let God reveal a legacy.
Inspired by Galations 6:4 (The Message), and the Max Lucado book “Out Live Your Life”
written by Lauren Arbogast, Mercy Ink contributor