Blazing a trail of love

What will be your legacy?

by Donna Frischknecht Jackson | Presbyterians Today

A favorite place the author hiked with her late friend — and so many trails still left to explore. Donna Frischknecht Jackson

This isn’t the editorial I had planned for you. As I was about to email what I had written to my copy editor, the ding of the computer alerted me to a new message. It was from a friend whom I have been trying to go on a hike with for what has seemed forever — thanks, Covid — so I quickly opened it. I read the first line with confusion and trepidation.

“This is Terri, Keith’s wife. I’m not sure you heard, but.” I wanted to stop right there, as nothing good ever follows “but.” My original editorial was scratched. I had something else I wanted to say about life, love and the opportunities we have to leave something meaningful behind.

Keith’s death, with no underlying known health issues, was a shock. While it was sooner than he would have wanted it, Keith’s wife wrote his death was more than he could have ever asked for. On a rare sunny morning of what had been a rainy spring, Keith went outside to enjoy the beauty surrounding him. With his dog by his side, he turned his face toward the sun, and then he was gone.

I met Keith at a Boy Scout event at a church I served. He shared with me paths to explore and rivers to kayak on. It was Keith who had the idea of hosting a New Year’s Eve snowshoe hike. The weather was not bitterly cold that night, and at the end of the hike our small group gathered around a bonfire, where we lifted our hopes for the unknown days to come.

Keith’s death reminded me of just how unknown our days are. It also added urgency to questions that I’ve been pondering during this never-ending pandemic and the ever-growing onslaught of shootings spurred on by ignorance and hate: How will I be remembered? Did I extend love to others? Did I point to the beauty amid the ugliness in this world as Keith did?

I think there is room for all of us to improve in how we live our days, as more often than not we allow negativity to overshadow the positive. And the greatest positive in life is that God is still holding, inspiring, strengthening and leading us on into each unknown day we have been blessed with.

Keith’s wife was sorry that we never got to go on our hike. Through my tears, though, I smile. We will hike again. Till then, there are earthly trails that are filled with moments when we can point others to the beauty of God and the amazing hope found within that beauty. That’s what Keith did for me with every “Wow, look at that!” he shouted from the trail.

It’s my turn now to carry on his legacy of faith in a great and loving God. It’s my turn to point others to the hope that is still in this world. And so I begin.

Wow! Look at that! Now find something good and beautiful to praise God for.

Donna Frischknecht Jackson is editor of Presbyterians Today.


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