Cemeteries have a strange beauty. There is an eerie calm that feels unsettling in contrast to the unpredictable and chaotic nature of our modern lives. Stone monuments stand as frozen sentries watching over the stillness, while the living rush past on their way to life. We don’t really like to think about death, preferring to ignore the reality that someday, we too will die. In this earnest attempt to avoid the subject, we also fail to recognize that when we die, we will leave a legacy. The question is…how will you be remembered?
Every fall the Nashville City Cemetery stages a Living History Tour. The cemetery was established in 1822 and holds over 20,000 interments. It is the final resting place of people from every race, religion, and economic background. Many of the founders and early leaders of the city are buried there.
On the cemetery tour you “meet” different men and women who are buried on the grounds. Actors in period costume stand at the gravesite of the person they are portraying and share the history and legacy of that person. They speak in first person and answer questions about “their life.” Among the cast are a slave, an attorney, a governor, a president’s wife, a soldier, and a riverboat captain.
Listening to their stories, you gain some perspective on the history of Nashville, the hardships of the early settlers, and the tremendous difficulties that many of these people had to face. This year, as I watched the presentations, it struck me that none of these people could have imagined that their lives would be the subject of a cemetery tour some hundred years later.
If you knew that people would be standing by your graveside many decades after your death, what would you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered? How would you be portrayed? The beautiful thing about goodness is that if you create it, if you live it, it lives on after you are gone. Just think of all the goodness people have left behind and how it still affects our lives. Think of the people who have loved you and invested in you and how their investment has sustained you in trying times.
A small act of goodness, of beauty, trueness, love, or life-giving things can alter the future in ways we cannot dream. As Frank Capra reminds us each year, without the simple goodness of people, Bedford Falls quickly becomes “Pottersville.” We want to encourage you to begin to dream of your own legacy. Plan for it. Invest in it. Make it inevitable that the people in your world will remember you for more than your job or your tax bracket. Be remembered for goodness so that there is more to you than just the span of your days on earth. Make a lasting investment in others so that you live on in their hearts long after the living is done.
“The life of goodness lasts.”
A “Good” Idea:
Do you need some ideas on how to begin your legacy of goodness? Keep checking back with us for things that relate to your world and how you can live it so it lasts.
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