It was nearly a jungle with trees, brush and briars everywhere. Just married (1897) and in his late 20’s, my grandfather was determined to make a living on a hillside farm covered in wilderness; much as his father had done before him in 1846 when he arrived from Germany. Endless hours during some 10 years of hard labor, he gradually cleared the entangled vegetation, principally stumped by innumerable stumps.
Eventually transformed to produce abundant corn, wheat and meadows, he spent his life farming successfully, raising his family and ultimately building a barn, out-buildings and a house. Weary from years of hard labor and in his 60s, he and my grandmother moved off the farm to live-out their remaining years in town.
Driving by my grandfather’s former farm is a sad experience for me. Viewing the house, barn and fields, I see no mark or identification of his years of sweat and toil that made the farm what it is today — beautiful and productive. The present owner enjoys the fruits of my grandfather’s labor, without any knowledge of my grandfather. It does not seem to be fair that there be no remaining identification, credit or recognition of my grandfather; or even that he lived or existed! Nowhere can there be found a trace or a mark of his years of transforming that farm.
But now that I think about it, is not the erased existence of my grandfather much the same for most all people including you and me? In but a few years after death who will have even the faintest recollection of our lives and accomplishments? It will be as though we never were.
How vain, frivolous and foolish of any of us to think impressing people, gaining fame and recognition on earth, is a worthy and worthwhile goal in life.
“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes” James 4:14.
May our lives of labor be done for the glory of the Author of our lives; anticipating sharing in His eternal life, joy and glory. Who needs an earthly trace?
The Rev. John Burkhart Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of psychology
firstname.lastname@example.org blog at inspirationsandideas