Last week I attended a short conference in Chicago, co-presented by Diarmuid O'Murchu and Cynthia Bourgeault. In my own spiritual unfolding, both of them play a significant role through their talks and books. I was glad to see them in person, and to
speak to each separately. Their work exploded yet another layer of my old, rigid thinking.
But it was a chance encounter with a woman I hardly knew that brings me to the topic of legacy. In the crowded gift shop, she approached me and said "where
do I know you from?" She looked familiar to me too, but I didn't know from where. Then she remembered: she was associated with the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters during my facilitation of two Chapters and all the meetings in between. Suddenly she startled: "I
remember now,", she said; "My husband had given me a lovely turtle pin and you admired it and said 'is this your totem?' I didn't know what the word meant but when I looked it up a whole new world opened to me and I realized that it is my totem! I shared this
with my whole family and suddenly we were all bringing turtles to each other and telling what they meant. So - because of your question - our whole family has adopted a turtle totem!" It really means something and brought us together!" She was so excited to
In these days when most religious communities are talking about and planning for their legacies, what we will leave in buildings, ministries, sponsorship, scholarship and other concrete forms of legacies, this woman - a woman I do not really
know at all - reminded me that a real legacy has another form: it is given and forgotten by the giver, often not even knowing they have given a legacy at all. But that heart-connection, opening unknown gifts in the hearts of others, passing on knowledge and
respect and new possibilities in a spirit of love...these are the legacies that will last. We do not need to know about them, legalize them, publicize them. They echo and unfold in the hearts of people on and on in the evolving love of the universe.