As a young man I envisioned items that my grandparents had that seemed to keep a tradition of our heritage and I hoped that one day they would be left to me for my care and then of course to pass on to the next generations. And I can always remember the stories like: this was your great grandfathers and he cleared the land with a plow and two horses named Mike and Dan. Each item tells a different story and within their different histories they somewhat speak to where I came from. As I write this homily and I can see granddad’s musket and grandma’s china press from where I am perched.
It seems this next generation doesn’t have the same connection with the old or the past. Maybe our buffet of information we encounter day to day eliminates that need to discover the true colors of our blood. But maybe it will resurface with the following generation of kinfolks as that search for their identity in this new age of becoming a colorless number. Or maybe our wealth of everything we can imagine is at our fingertips and not about stuff or who we were.
I come from a long line of working folks and wealth was not defined by gold and coin. Our bulwark was family and that may be a carryover of the great depression when the only thing you had of value, was each other! I still remember when a big project was at hand, the extended family arrived with labor and food to help build, feed or repair what was broken or needed. I can still remember bringing the heifers down from the Skyline Drive using the mountain fire roads and when we reached civilization, the job intensified as we needed to keep the girls out of the peoples gardens and keep the peoples dogs from dividing the herd. They were my two uncle’s cattle and my cousins and another uncle were there to help. I was on foot with my converse high top sneakers and the older kin rode their horses as we made the 20 mile drive to the Piedmont. I think my uncles must have watched a lot of westerns!! I believe this was planned during the gas crisis in the 70’s when oil quadrupled in price and became scarce, and inflation went to the moon and back, and the cattle needed to come home to the safety of the farm.
Well that was survival for us. We were tending to our future here on this pasture where it was only by the perspiration of our brow that your family was fed, and of course a hope in God. You could count on family! Well, anyway, most of time. There always seems to be a season or two of strife within the veins of any family.
Maybe my old heirlooms will end up in an antique store or flea market one day. I guess their value is decreasing as I age. But the most important heirloom I can hope to pass on for generations to come is an unquenchable love of God. Our younger generations need to know that our faith is the greatest treasure we have. They are watching how we spend our time and where we spend our money. They are watching how we react to crises and how often we are repenting for our actions. They see our random acts of kindness and how we love our neighbor and just how much dust has settled on our bible. What heirloom are you leaving offspring?
Years ago as we planned our will, a lawyer told me that maybe I shouldn’t try to run things from deep in the grave. Our Lord tells us this very thing as recorded by St. Matthew: “Cease treasuring up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust doth destroy, and where thieves dig through and steal; “but be treasuring up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth spoil, and where thieves do not dig through nor steal. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [Mt. 6:19-21]
If you are not sure who your family is, look around you, we are FAMILY! Take some time to pass on these imperishable heirlooms! Glory to Thee!!!