I was just a girl, walking down the lane.
The lane that led from the blue house on the hill down to the water. I loved that path. It was hugged by wildflowers and a wire fence, and I was captivated by the old homes still standing that had belonged to my family in the past. Some of the houses were deserted and empty and I snapped some pictures and wished I knew all the stories that the walls contained.
If time travel actually existed, I’d love to go back. Just for one day.
To see the lives lived inside now boarded-up places.
At the end of the lane was perfectly-clear blue water that filled every crack deep in my soul. I walked down the creaky steps to the dock that had been in my family for generations, and I unwrapped the sandwich that I brought with me. I sat on the dock and ate my little picnic in quiet and let myself be filled with the beauty around me, as I processed all that was happening in my heart.
I was in the middle of a trip that was about my past, yet so connected to my present and future. I sat there and I drank it all in.
I recall once expressing to my high school writing teacher that I would always look at bright lights, sky scrapers and homes on hills and wonder about the people inside.
Who were they?
What life were they living?
What does family look like for them?
I remember him telling me that what I was feeling was a “sense of history.” If I did have a sense of history, it was alive and well as I sat on the dock and imagined all the past life that had been lived in present places.
I decided to do some more exploring. I walked down the to beach and I climbed over the rocks and I got a little brazen. I felt a little greedy asking for more. I knew the trip was gift enough.
But I went ahead. I prayed a little prayer to my Maker.
“Send me a treasure.”
Sometimes in deep places I cry out for more.
I walked around and then I noticed something on the beach amidst all the stones, rocks and sticks that had washed up on shore. It was an old brick. It seemed a little strange to find a brick on the beach. I took a closer look and picked it up. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
It was faded and hard to make out.
But that brick had a word on it.
Maybe I read too much into things, but I had just asked for a treasure. I was on a trip that was all about family. And there in the sand was a beaten up brick with the one common thread that ran through my whole journey.
My mother’s family name.
My family name.
What a precious reminder.
I took a picture to show everyone but I wasn’t content with just that. Later, I went back down to the beach and got that brick before I went home. I wrapped it up and packed it in my suitcase, and that piece of weathered stone is now in my house. From the beaches of Newfoundland to the vineyards of Niagara. A reminder that God hears me when I call, and that I have a treasure in legacy.
Sometimes legacy might seem like it’s fading. Maybe we have to look hard to find it. It gets worn and beaten down. Boarded up, like empty houses on a lane. But no matter the journey, no matter the cracks and imperfections – legacy is the cornerstone from which we come, and the motivation to keep pursuing the future.
Legacy helps defines who we are, and pushes us to who we want to be.
It’s what you leave behind but it’s also what you create while you live.
I don’t know where that brick came from but it was once part of a structure. It fell apart, broke down, got tossed around. The winds howled, the rain poured and the waves crashed, but it survived the storm.
It’s history faded but not gone. Broken but not destroyed. Hard pressed but not overcome.
Resilient. Strong. Taking the past and influencing the future.
Legacy built from all the bricks gathered through the years, by all the hearts joined in love. Some older, some new. Some freshly made, a few still in early formation. Others with worn down edges, a few exposing painful broken pieces. Imperfectly beautiful and bound together by a mortar so strong that no storm could tear it apart, built by people committed to weather any season together.
That is family.
That is legacy.
Look for those treasures.
Collect those pieces.
Find your bricks.
Keep on building.