Saturday, October 3, 2009

Granite's Great But...


It was about ten years ago that my dad died. His passing was nothing less than typical of a cardiac patient with many related health issues. I think it was a stroke that finally took him. That’s what they said.

The winter following his death was challenging and took a bit of time to absorb the fact that he was gone and it wouldn’t be until we are united in heaven someday that I would get another hug. Love you dad. Now I wear Skin Bracer. Maybe my kids will remember that smell too.

We buried him in a small cemetery on the north side of Urbandale, Iowa. It took many months for the headstone marker to be placed. The caretakers of the cemetery told us that they had to let the grave settle. As a matter of fact it was just a dirt pile for the longest time. No grass or anything. That kind of bugged me. It seemed disrespectful in some way, but I finally understood their rationale.

Eventually the stone was set in its proper place. Dad’s name, date of birth and date of death on one side and mom’s name and date of birth on the other. She’s yet living so the date of death is yet to be inscribed. Plus, what do you do with her new married name? I’m happy for you mom and Glenn. Viva Wisconsin!

Anyway, I was thinking about our lives and how when it’s all said and done, there is usually more said than done. Jesus told us to live our lives so that we produced fruit that lasts. That thought has haunted me today.

Not withstanding a wonderful piece of fruit like Chad Schlak, I wonder how much fruit from my dad’s life is still hanging around. By the way, Chad’s on the cusp of his second career as a missionary teacher. Now there’s some lasting fruit. Love to you Edmund, dad would be exceedingly proud.

But really, do any of us have that great of a lasting impact on very many people? In light of how many people live and have lived on this planet, most of us simply pass into eternity with little to no ripples. In just ten short years the concentric circles of my dad’s 67 have all but settled out to a glassy sea that once reflected the mark he was making while alive.

We use granite and stuff like that to make headstones. I guess because it’s supposed to last a long time. But you know what? If no one comes to the stone to clean it or trim the weeds around it, mildew and foliage overcome the only vestige many of us can hope for. Sorry dad, I’ve not stopped by lately.

My point is this: Most of us live our lives not knowing how the story will end. What will our legacy bear? Since our lives are like stories unfolding week in and week out, a question surfaces in my mind. Who’s writing your story? Will our lives be the kind of stories that must be told or read over and over, or will they just be shelved with all the other dime-store-paper-back novels or end up in the “only a nickel” box at an estate sale someday?

I ask my Father to help me write a better story. I ask Him to develop the characters that come and go in my life so that my story becomes a rich and lasting one, because mildew and foliage can’t grow on a good story. As a matter of fact, good stories have a tendency to grow into great stories. Time and poor memories tend to achieve this phenomenon. But in reality, good stories affect how we think and often how we act. Think about that for a moment.

May God help me to leave more than a chunk of granite as my legacy, because granite’s great but… a good living Life story makes far more sense to me. How’s your story coming along?

1 comment:

  1. Lisa (Gaule) Brechtel10/3/09, 7:07 PM

    Russell...this is the first time I've made it to your blog. My mom passed away 1/3/99 and so I can so relate to this reflection. Thank you for sharing it so eloquently. I often need a reminder of this sort. I remember your dad and him being teased often in church.;) He would be so proud of you!!

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