I like wandering through cemeteries. Not the new ones with perfectly manicured grass, but the old ones. The ones with grungy tombstones and vine-ridden mausoleums; the ones that are slowly being taken over by nature and slowly falling into the backdrop of the cities being built up around them; the ones where bodies found rest long before my parents were born. I find these old cemeteries to be great spaces for personal reflection.
While wandering through these places, these contemplative questions inevitably arise: "What will be left when I'm gone?" and “What will my parents and those around me leave when they’re gone?” They are questions that both excite and challenge me. They are questions that remind me that I have no idea how long I have, and yet ask myself, “Does it really matter?”
Does the amount of days I have actually matter compared to what I do with those days? Usually, at this point in my life, thinking about death doesn’t scare me. But thinking about how I spend my days before that death arrives, DEFINITELY makes me question my choices and my path. Within, what I would consider, my Christian, Western, socially minded, internationally focused, far-from-perfect worldview, I think about legacy a lot. I think about eternity a lot.
And mostly, I think about how my legacy will affect eternity. In reality, this is why Kris and I decided to move across the country--why we left everyone we love for this new city. It was all in hopes of having the most eternal impact possible, of stepping out in humility (something that is not natural for either of us), and being the most like Jesus as possible. It's much easier to say that we moved here to work at a church—for a job, but really that's not it. In reality, we moved here to sacrifice our immediate comforts for the sake of the spiritual—for the sake of eternity. Our move might be considered a kind of spiritual fasting—sacrificing our physical, emotional, and mental desires for the sake of spiritual growth.
Did we have to move across the country to be a part of this eternal kingdom? No. But, we felt like it's where we were meant to be for this time. For this reason, we chose to surrender our own wants for the sake of something greater. This example is only a dime a dozen. There’s nothing extraordinary about it, but it’s our example; it’s our story. It’s an example that is simply intended to make us all think a little bit more about the lives we're living and the focus of our legacies. It’s also an example in my life that I question just about every day.
Is my legacy always eternally focused? No way, man; no. way. But, when I think about legacy, this is what I think about. I think about eternity, and about planting seeds of Jesus's love and justice and faithfulness, and about how to do more of that. I think about how I want that radical love to be commonplace in my daily life. And, I fail. Like, a lot. I don't even leave my house many days of the week to spread this so-called love.
On those days, I try to focus my heart of prayer and on being prepared for the good deeds that do lie before me, and being prepared for the trials and hardships that will inevitably come. I try to be intentional with those days that I don’t encounter other people. And really, even these eternal thoughts (let alone, actions) only happen on very particular days, usually days when I’m weakest and loneliest and in need of reminders of that kingdom which is to come—the one where I want my legacy to dwell.
When I visit grave sites and think about life and about death, I will continue to think about legacy. I will think about those who left destruction, chaos, and selfish ambition. And I will seek to reflect those who left a legacy with an eternal impact--a legacy of great sacrifice and selfless ambition, whether they had one day or one century to do so.
There is one graveyard in Charleston, SC I always make it a point to visit. It’s so stunning and in the midst of that beautiful city, it’s a place for great reflection. Right near by, in walking distance, is also City Lights Coffee. So, next time you're in Charleston, grab a cup from City Lights for your wanderings, and swing by this gorgeous cemetery for some time of introspection.
City Lights Coffee // 141 Market St, Charleston, SC 29401
Unitarian Church in Charleston // 4 Archdale Street, Charleston, SC 29401
(Please do not assume that this post reflects the thoughts or philosophies of the above featured shop. Thanks for joining me!)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -Jesus, according to the Gospel of Matthew