What will I leave when I’m done,
when I’ve run this earthly course,
when, in accord with the reckoning of the Eternal Maker,
I will have spun my final transient thread?
(This question, an existentialist’s amusement,
his self-indulgent, in part, melancholic entertainment
on a January day at dusk,
just as the light flees the sky.)
Material things, I have not (though debt I do):
a few books, treasured volumes marking an evolution of my intellectual inquisitions;
copies of one I’d written that died on my shelf for lack of (my disdain for) self-promotion;
notebooks, tapes, and e-files of numerous words
(not countless, for to say such would be hyperbole; but who’s counting?);
some shaped into homilies, each and all, at one time,
written and spoken with a given people,
in a given place,
at a given time;
others, disciples lined row upon row, page by page of fictional characters,
each and all, a strand of the tapestry of my personality.
Hence, what will I leave?
That determination must be left to the judgments of those I leave.
Still, hazarding a guess, this is what I think. Not much,
save the memories others may have of:
the whispers of a ventriloquist’s voice striving, struggling to sound respectable and
the public smiles & laughter, the camouflage for private frowns of self-disownment and
the false wizardry of Oz, though curtained, unable to conceal a native absence of confidence and
the dead-boned valley of a soul that ruach could not revive.
Again, not much. Perhaps less than not much.
Yet, as long as I have breath and strength,
then, by the e’er-present Spiritual powers of faith, hope, and love,
I have life to be and labor to do.
Thus, a chance that I might become someone I’d remember kindly and well.
4 thoughts on “Legacy”
Sooooooo let’s just clear this up. PRA, You’re going to leave an amazing legacy….so many words for us to remember, ponder, digest and act on ….words that always encouraged us to live with love and justice in our hearts and minds. Words that were real and honest but never judgmental. Words that let us know that it is ok to question our faith. For me, that’s a pretty damn good legacy.
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Paul, you, more than many if not most, have left indelible marks on many people (including one who bears your name!) and institutions. Your book has a treasured place on our bookshelf. Your expansive, intuitive, insightful ideas have brought “church” to many, which will leave a legacy for generations. Because of you, I think of church as a place of thoughtful worship, and joyful reconnecting, not of rote recitation and perfunctory passing of the peace that I experienced growing up. That ongoing lesson will impact our son and his spiritual journey, and his family’s journey, and so on. This comes about because you are, and were, and dare to be provocative (pro- voice as you would reference the Romance language roots of the word), ebullient, and, most importantly, authentic. Love ya, you leader of the league of significant smiters!
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Ah, my dearest Lisa, you and your words evoke a belly-laugh, and then tears, both of recognition and thanksgiving. With gratitude, I, at least for an instant, will strive to look at myself through your eyes. I think, feel, and believe that I, much of the time, am aware, too aware (as I wrote a moment ago to Loretta who replied to my post in a vein similar to yours) of my shadow-self of the failure, the falling from the grace of the image of God that I behold that I…that we all are called to be and to become. Hence, rarely do I, can I let myself off the proverbial hook. Verily, oft the one I must smite is me. Still, I love you for your honest view of me. I only pray that I can and will see myself as you see me. I love you.
Thank you, Loretta, for your kindness. I would like to be remembered as you remember me. Still, I am aware, too aware of my shadow-self – my failings, my fallings from the grace of the goodness I behold and to which I aspire – to let myself off the proverbial hook. So, as I wrote, by faith, hope, and love with breath to breathe and life to live, I shall continue to strive for the goodness of the God in Whom I believe. Thank you for you and your encouragement. Love you