The city required us to repair a few pieces of our driveway. Maybe you’ve had to have this done at some point. If you have, maybe you also know the temptation of fresh concrete. It beckons to the playful part of us that wants to leave an indelible mark on the world.
In our case, we didn’t even attempt to resist that temptation. We relished the opportunity to write our names in the soft pavement, where evidence of our presence will be preserved for time immemorial.
I’ve seen a lot of marks in pavement. Names. Geometric symbols. Messages of all sorts. And also, paw prints from animals that may not have known what they were getting into when they started a trek across a freshly poured sidewalk.
It makes me think of our UU Celebrations of Life, where we lift up the life and legacy of someone who has died. We mourn that a person isn’t in our lives anymore. At the same time, we take time to acknowledge the mark that they left in the world. Their legacy.
So often the most memorable legacy a person leaves behind isn’t a great achievement or a legendary feat. What people seem to remember most are acts of kindness, moments when another human being made them feel important, or time another person spent teaching them something new.
And those things may not seem like they leave a lasting mark. We may not think much of them at the time if we’re the ones offering care or mentoring or kindness. Often we’re just being ourselves in those moment. Yet, the ripples from those action reach further than we might imagine.
We patiently and passionately teach someone a new skill, and then they might teach others with the same generous attitude. And those students might turn around and teach a generation we won’t even meet. Our actions leave a mark on the world. Like names (or paw prints) in wet concrete.
So, what do you want your legacy to be? Because we can be intentional about the mark we leave on the world. It might be as simple as telling someone that we appreciate them. Or taking an extra moment to do something kind for someone we don’t even know. The simplest things can make all the difference.
You’re going to leave your mark on the world. You get to decide what it is.
Rev. Randy Partain