Leave A Trail

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what kind of trail I’m leaving. We all leave some kind of trail, right? 

Maybe this is what I like about mowing the grass. I can tell where I’ve been.

Darron walks into the house and can tell immediately if sweet Cyrus has been here because he leaves a trail of toddler toys and all kinds of other things he discovered in the cabinets or pulled off the shelves. 

I hear far too many stories of people who seem to leave a trail of brokenness and destruction in their path, and certainly as imperfect people we’re bound to leave some disappointment in our wake.

But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m thinking more about the calling to create beauty and art, to cultivate & leave behind something good for those who will come along behind us. .. to leave a trail of restoration, repair & beauty.

On a cross-country road trip one year, we listened to an audio book called Culture Makers. The author says we were created to be creators & cultivators, artists & gardeners. This is our legacy from our spiritual parents, our calling since Genesis Chapter One.

One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, writes:

“We get to make beauty, we get to leave loveliness, we get to make art for all who come in our wake…”

This is one of those things that sets us apart from the animal kingdom. This ability to create & dream & foresee how today’s decisions might affect someone else’s future.

Darron says his mom always taught them to leave things better than they found them. If you borrowed something, you returned it clean and in better condition than it was when you got it. 

We were meant to leave this world better than we found it.

When I look at my day-to-day life in terms of the trail I’m leaving for those who come behind me, it’s easy to feel a little discouraged and overwhelmed. I mean, most of my to-do list seems to center around what’s happening right now. It fills up quickly with the demands of the week – pay bills, file taxes, buy groceries, do laundry, finish whatever project I happen to be in the middle of, and on & on. It’s a never-ending list of stuff that we do as tax-paying American citizens and homeowners and business owners. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day and forget to think long and dream long...beyond the comfort of my own little life.

Oh, I have dreams and desires about investing my time in grand, eternal things. I desperately want to do my part in bringing hope and solutions to the oppressed, the orphans and the trafficked, those living under horrific persecution and unimaginable poverty. I am deeply inspired by stories of men and women who sacrifice their own time, resources & comfort to serve the abandoned and forgotten. 

But what if I can’t go to Uganda or Rwanda or Pakistan? I certainly can’t go today. What can I do today that will leave beauty for someone else?

Today, I can plant and water the seeds that will grow into something that feeds the people I love. I can create beauty in the form of a flower garden or a guest bedroom that welcomes a weary traveler. I can read books with Cyrus and smother him with love and kisses. 

I can show up and be present, whether it’s in the counseling room or at the coffee shop or at my kitchen island. I can use my words to build up rather than tear down. I can love the person in front of me.

I can go for a walk & eat my veggies & laugh & sleep because investments in my own physical and emotional health are ultimately investments in my family.

I can pray fervently for my husband & kids & grandkids & for friends who are facing hard things & for the leaders of this country, because God knows there were those who came before me who prayed fervent prayers and I am blessed because of them. 

And I can steep myself in the presence of a loving God… because really, at the end of the day… the trail I leave behind is merely the residue, the spilling out, of whatever’s going on inside my own heart.

My challenge: Go out today and leave a trail of loveliness. Make art or music and put it out there to be shared. Build something or plant something or say something that will bless someone in your wake. 

 
“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”     Maximus, Gladiator

 

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Alyssa Bell1 Comment