Creating a Spiritual Legacy
CREATING A SPIRITUAL LEGACY
Passing On Your Stories, Values, And Wisdom
Daniel Taylor: “A spiritual legacy is the passing of wisdom from one person to another, and it is your single most important possession. Your spiritual legacy is largely tied up in the stories that flow from your life experiences and includes anything you have learned about how life works and what is important. This book, building on the interest in story in all my writing, encourages people (of all ages) to tell the stories of their life—for the benefit of those they care about—and gives practical advice on how to do so.”
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To lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but also spiritually.
To have a life, you must have a story. In fact, many stories. This is literally true, not merely a metaphor. Your life is not like a story; it is a story. And if any part of it is to have significance beyond you, this story must be told.
Telling your stories is the central act of a spiritual legacy. It is not a self-indulgence or a passing entertainment. As part of a spiritual legacy, telling your stories is the fulfillment of a responsibility—the responsibility to pass on wisdom. It doesn’t matter whether you feel you have wisdom—your stories do.
Every story is unique and, at the same time, every story finds an echo in other stories. Frederick Buechner says, “My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.” This is one reason why telling your stories is a blessing to others. They see in it something relevant to themselves. Your story provides them resources for living.
Everyone creates an ongoing spiritual legacy each day of life—for good or ill. We are blessed—or harmed—by the examples, virtues, and values of those we share our lives with. Most often our legacy is passed on by actions and by spoken words. But both of these require close contact over a long period of time. And they tend by nature to be transient. Written legacies put stories and insights into forms that stand a much better chance of lasting and of benefiting people at a distance of both time and place.
There is no valid excuse for not creating a more permanent spiritual legacy, least of all a supposed inability to write or tell stories. You could tell a story before you could even talk, and since then you have told them every day of your life. Writing is essentially just putting talk down on paper. If you can’t do it (you can), there are others who will do it for you.
Perhaps the surest way to get excited about creating a spiritual legacy is to envision someone you love. He or she needs your stories, needs your insights, needs your wisdom. What greater blessing do you have to offer than the sharing of your life? What more powerful way of sharing a life than telling your stories? Who does not wish to bless those they love? Why not start now?