Once there was a farmer. He was very old and ill and knew he would soon die. He had lived a good life and his only regret was that his three children fought all the time. None of them seemed interested in taking care of the large farm the old man had established. They were rather lazy. The farm was big enough for several farmhouses and produced enough food to easily provide for any families his children might someday start. The only reason the old farmer had worked so hard his entire life was to leave a legacy to his children so their life would be easier. Now that his life was near its end, he wanted to find some way to help them see what a precious thing it is to be able to work your own land and provide for your family. So he did.
One winter day, the old farmer called his children to his sick bed. “My children, I have accumulated great wealth.”
“Where is this great wealth?”, they asked.
“You have never seen it. It exists out, deep in the fields. That is where you will find your legacy.” A short time later, the farmer died.
His children grieved, because they loved their father. Their sadness brought them together and they stopped fighting. One day, they decided to go looking for their legacy.
“He said it is deep in the fields. It must be buried.”
“We’ll need to dig for it.”
So they dug and dug for days. They dug until they had dug up almost all the farmland, but they found nothing. One sibling said, “We have dug up all this land, but we haven’t found our legacy. We must have missed it and I am too tired to keep digging. Still, it is spring and time to plant crops. Since we have already dug up the earth, we might as well plant this field.” So they did.
Fall came and after harvesting their crops, they set to digging again, looking for their legacy. They dug and dug for days. They dug until, once again, they had dug up almost all the farmland, but they found nothing. One sibling said, “We have dug up all this land, but we haven’t found our legacy. We must have missed it and I am too tired to keep digging. Still, it is spring and time to plant crops. Since we have already dug up the earth, we might as well plant as we did last year.” So they did.
Yet again, fall came and they harvested their crops. This year’s harvest was even bigger than the year’s before. After the harvest, they dug for their legacy and, not finding it again, decided to plant their crops. This continued for a few years. During that time, they got married and started families and they lived comfortable lives off the money from selling their crops. They grew strong from working in the fields and no longer were lazy. They were healthy and happy.
One spring, they all three realized that the rich land of the farm and being able to provide for themselves and their families was the true legacy their father left them. They stopped digging for treasure and started working the farm, happy that that their father had been wise enough to leave them this great gift. They decided that they would all share the land and take good care of it, so they could leave it to their children someday.
And so they did.
Everyone doesn’t own farmland to leave to his or her children. But every parent leaves something, a legacy to his or her children. It might be a house, but it could also be a value, like hard work. It might be beautiful necklace, but it could also be a belief or a religion, like Unitarian Universalism. The legacy might be a favorite book, but it could also be photographs and memories of special times.
What about the way you look? Maybe you got your eye color from your great grandmother. Maybe you got your height from your dad’s side of the family. Maybe you get your sense of humor from your mother. Maybe your cousin is the person handing down the family recipe that goes back several generations. What did you receive as a legacy from an ancestor?