What is Legacy?
While oftentimes society can see “legacy” in terms of what meets the eye, and what can be measured, legacy is much deeper than that. William Shakespeare wrote, "No legacy is so rich as honesty," in his play All's Well That Ends Well (Act 3, Scene 5). Catherine of Siena wrote, "For people become like what they love," in a portion of a letter (Letter T29) to Regina della Scala, a noblewoman. When fiction gives way to truth, and one scratches beyond the surface reaching the heart of the matter, therein lies what will be left behind and passed along, whether individually or collectively. What stands the test of time, whether for good or bad, is legacy.
Often a question or thought like, "What is this about?" or "There has to be something more than this,” leads one to pause and take notice. In spiritual direction, we strive to discern and live out choices that uncover and align with one's deepest, God-given, desires. In the process, whether or not one is aware, the force within that often works to serve one's own legacy becomes tamed, almost naturally. Over time, when one works consistently, in union with God, at being faithful and honest, persevering and following through, trusting the call to rise above and move beyond, though there may be moments of fear or shadows of doubt, the transformation occurs. When it does, legacy is turned toward serving that which is greater, the legacy that is God.
It does not stop there though. Perhaps that is the true beauty of legacy. In relationship with God, while the promise remains the same, we are called to be not only faithful, but also ever-growing and ever-changing. We are called to evolve. We are challenged to take stock of what is around us, and what is within us, as we go through life and each situation we encounter or interaction we have.
The lesser legacy (personal legacy) secretly seeks to keep us where we are spiritually. It seeks to keep one's sight on the best way to reach one's own personal goals and ultimately to serve oneself. While the legacy that is God always seeks the greater good. It reveals the way to move beyond and rise above that which would look to undermine, drive a wedge between us—or bring us down—individually or collectively.
Since the beginning of time, a divine desire for unity and wholeness has existed within and among all creation. Throughout time, many a soul has searched to discover, to become one with, and to live from that place of legacy. The contemplative, spiritual life is all about legacy. It is a shared legacy that calls us to remember, to see and to be the light. This is what truly makes us one with God and each other.
How is legacy operating in your life?
Carissa Kane is a spiritual director trained by SDII, a certification program in Brighton, Massachusetts, USA. She is the married mother of two children and author of the blog “Hope That Floats” on WordPress. Her ministry includes spiritual direction and retreat work, as well as religious education and visiting the sick and homebound.