What’s in a Name?

A few days ago, I spent some time at the Catholic cemetery taking photos of grave markers for fellow family historians online. It’s a hobby I genuinely love. It’s nice to give back to a community that has aided me in my own genealogical searches. But more than this, I am inspired by the thought of how many stories are locked within those gates each night. Each grave remembers one life. Each life remembers a million stories. Each story represents many perspectives. Each perspective is shaped by experience. Each experience is another story. Each new story is part of a legacy.

This weekend, Jonathan Dunne* asked his facebook followers a poignant question: What identifies you?

Questions like this always send me into a whirlwind of self-reflection. The question was coupled with another: Do you always seek an earthly defined reward for your works?

It made me think of a grave I spent several minutes with the other day.

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Someone out there knows the name that goes with this marker, but sadly, time and weather has broken this stone and it’s no longer apparent who is buried here. Still, I found great hope in the beauty of this adorned grave. Someone remembers this person. His story impacted lives. Though it looks as if he’s been gone more than 100 years, he is honored yet with a simple white flower.

Legacy isn’t about making a name for ourselves; it’s about loving those around us. There may be moments in our lives when we see how our choices are changing the lives of others, but for the most part, we never really know, do we? That’s because our reward was never in this temporal existence; it is a reward held safely for us in eternity.

So in all of my soul-searching, trying to figure out (yet again… or maybe still) who I am and what makes me “me,” I find a new answer today: Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe, in the end, someone will remember our words to them or our generosity or our kindness or our encouragement in their struggle. They may forget our name, but the legacy of our  love cannot be snuffed out like an ashen wick. Maybe all that matters is living out our passions, our callings, our convictions in a manner that exemplifies the love of Christ.

Maybe, in the end, that’s all we have.

Pax Christi.

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* If you’re not following him, take a moment to do so. You won’t regret it. The man’s passion will challenge you.

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