During a summer visit to Parkersburg, Iowa, I drove out to where our farm had been. I use the past tense because the farm is no longer there. Yes, the land is still there, but not a single farm building. It was a surreal experience to pull into the field driveway that was once our farm driveway. I had to probe deep into my memory to locate where the house, barn, straw barn, machine shed, chicken coop, and hog shed had been located.
I walked the rows of beans where our farmyard had been, finding and picking up small pieces of my past: a portion of a brick, a chard of pottery, a piece of china. I didn’t recognize any of the remnants, but I know they came from when I had lived there. I was playing archaeologist, discovering artifacts of my past. This has to be a sign of being old!
Wherever we are, we are leaving artifacts of our having been there, and I’m not just referring to tangible objects like an empty coffee cup, a used piece of chewing gum stuck under the table (yuk!) or a wadded piece of paper left on the desk. I’m thinking about the artifacts of influence and impact we leave on the lives of others.
If someone were to probe the various levels of our lives, from the surface relationships of our casual connections to the deeper ones of family and friends, what kind of artifacts would they uncover? Where we live, move, and have our being would they find hurt or healing, judgment or grace, discouraging words or words of encouragement, fear or faith, apathy or love? As we walk through each day, what do we leave behind?
We can’t live without leaving some kind of a mark in this world. The question is, what kind of a mark will it be?
“I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice.” (Proverbs 8:20)
(Photo is of the actual artifacts of my past that I found.)