There is something soulful about the word heirloom, and I’m not talking about the tomatoes, although I am a big fan of those too. In our current usage heirloom means something special, almost sacred, that is inherited or passed down, a keepsake worth cherishing and keeping safe.
A few months ago I posted about the boxes I inherited when I was in Michigan last summer. Honestly they’re still mostly sitting there in the corner, the funeral guest books, the photos. Today I walked by the photo albums and lifted them onto the bed, sorting through them one by one. Spread out before me were grainy and yellowed pictures of my parents when they were dating, sitting in camp chairs or on the backs of cars. My mom holding new babies and my dad reading to all three of us on his old beige lazy boy.
I couldn’t help but tear up because I miss being a family, being together. When I look at some of the last photos of my dad I feel like I’m almost looking thru his chest and right at his heart, wishing we would have known that it was failing. As I looked through all of those old photos I felt strangely sad and inspired all at the same time. As I remembered where I came from, the photos with the goofy haircuts and bad wallpaper, I felt more “me” than I had been before I sifted through the photos.
The fact is that my life and the way I live it is the true heirloom that my parents left behind. They had struggles and they made some mistakes but when I look over the photos of birthday parties and halloweens something inside me connects with all that they hoped and prayed I would become. They weren’t the only two that raised me either, I was nourished and tended to by a village of aunts, uncles and cousins as well. I was raised by a village, and they passed on heirlooms that go even farther beyond the memories seen in those yellowed photos.
My walk with God- an heirloom, the most precious one they gave me
My strong work ethic- an heirloom, one that serves me well… most of the time
My love of food- an heirloom, so many of our traditions center around food and family gathered ’round.
My dedication to my own family- an heirloom, one I hope never fades in my lineage.
The way I wake up, pray, serve, love and strive, the passion and wisdom I carry around in my heart, these are the real heirlooms. When I combine them with the memories that we made together in tents and living rooms year after year I discover that they are what I cherish most.
Fond memories and strong character, they are an heirloom of such great value that they transcend a monetary figure.
What heirlooms are you carrying inside that you cherish? What are you investing in now that future generations will love to carry on?
Dear Lord, give us tunnel vision to use every moment to build into our communities and families strong heirlooms that will build a legacy that brings your heaven to earth. Free us from our baggage, our vices and our past so that we can move where you want us to move. Amen and Thank you.