Resting, Retooling, Recharging and Reconnecting. We are daily immersing ourselves in these four stated goals of our sabbatical. Today, I watch a female Rufous hummingbird probe the flowers on the bank of the glacier-fed McKenzie River in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. The dopamine, serontonin and endorphin-producing sounds of the water rushing over the rocks and the sights of birds, bees and butterflies nearby, create an idyllic and picturesque place to reflect on last week.
Last week was an opportunity to be intentional about leaving a legacy. A key component of our sabbatical was to reconnect with family and to connect our three children, their spouses and our four grandchildren to their family roots. So we started our four-month renewal period ten weeks ago with a visit to the villages of Switzerland where our ancestors lived. This past week, we rented an ocean-view home on the Oregon Coast and spent the entire time with our children and grandchildren.
When writing the grant proposal to fund this sabbatical, we desired to create some memories that would be carried for years to come in the brain cells of our descendants. We budgeted to fly them from Florida to my home state of Oregon for reconnecting with their grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. And then, to spend an entire week together with their siblings and parents. But we planned so much more than just sleeping in the same house, eating our meals together, riding the sand rails on the Oregon Dunes, exploring the tide pools and watching the grey whales spout in the Pacific.
Although Linda and I have long been intentional about the legacy we leave for our children and grandchildren, we started planning this Oregon Coast legacy week 23 months ago. In addition to memorable fun together, we planned three evenings of intentional legacy-leaving activities.
1) An evening was devoted to giving a photojournalistic overview of what we know about our faith heritage and ancestral legacy from Europe. Our descendants needed to know of their adventurous, pioneering, risk-taking, courageous, and God-loving relatives of generations before them.
2) Another evening was dedicated to challenging them to be intentional about their own legacy. Six months prior we gave an assignment. Read “The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family” by Patrick Lencioni and be prepared to share the three answers you have come up with as a couple. We shared ours. They shared theirs. It was inspiring, beautiful and meaningful.
3) The third evening was committed to Linda and I verbally sharing pre-written blessings with each family member (inspired by The Blessing and Christian Grand-Parenting). From our one-year old twin grandchildren all the way up to our 38 year old son, everyone received a blessing of words, scripture and prayer. We concluded the evening with a reading of Joshua 4 (remembrance stones for future generations) and connecting it to communion together where Jesus invites all of His followers to remember His legacy of grace through the symbols of bread and wine. Each child and grandchild then chose a stone we had picked up in the Jura mountains of Switzerland near where their Anabaptist ancestors had expressed their bold commitment to Jesus Christ in the face of persecution and death.
As I sit here beside the calming McKenzie River, reflecting on this recent legacy week with our children their spouses and our grandchildren, I can’t help but be moved with the emotion of my own memories. I have no idea what kind of details our children and grandchildren will remember from that week together on the Oregon Coast. I doubt if they will remember seeing their first Peregrine Falcon in the wild at Yaquina Head, how many whales we watched feeding in the bay or even how fast the high-powered rails went up and over the sand dunes. But I do know they will remember. Here’s how I know.
I remember my grandfather, Orie Kropf, bringing my older brother Galen and I fishing on this very river–the McKenzie River, famous for spawning salmon. It’s been 50 years. I can’t remember how many fish we caught or even if we caught any fish. I just remember my Grandpa Kropf being surprisingly patient with a 10 year old who tangled lines with his brother and lost a lure through a wayward cast. Those are the memories that legacies are made of. I commit to be even more intentional in the years that remain.
For a photojournal of our six weeks in Europe, check out this link on Gingerich PhotoArt.
For a photo overview of the past four weeks of our USA Road trip, check out this link on my photography website.