“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them” (Deut. 4:9).
“Life is not like a story; it is a story,” says Daniel Taylor in his new book Creating a Spiritual Legacy: How to Share Your Stories, Values and Wisdom(Brazos). A spiritual legacy is the passing of wisdom from one person to another—the most valuable gift you can give to those you love. Young or older, everyone creates spiritual legacies every day by actions and spoken words.
Writing down your legacies in stories is the best way to preserve them over time. (Others can do it for you if writing terrifies you.) We all have “mini-stories” that highlight one meaningful event—a chunk of memory, a memoir. We also have “master stories,” summaries of a life lived—much like a testimony.
Frederick Buechner (Telling Secrets, HarperOne), a master storyteller now in his 80s, insists, “. . . it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes himself known to each of us more powerfully and personally.” Another contemporary voice, Richard Rohr of the Franciscan tradition (Falling Upward, Jossey-Bass), talks of a certain spiritual maturity that allows for sharing both the struggles and the glories of a life faithfully lived.
Dan Taylor concludes his helpful book by saying that passing on your spiritual legacy is not optional; you are responsible to testify to the work of God in your life. You must pass on that hard-won wisdom.
So get started—envision someone you love sitting beside you on the sofa, eager to listen. Are you ready to pass along wisdom? Perhaps your loved one is far away—bless her with a letter that contains your spiritual insights as they relate to her life. Share your stories with others as spiritual legacies. Don’t let the things your eyes have seen slip from your heart.