Notes from Jan

Of Legacies and Leftovers

September 19, 2020


She’s gone.

Some cheer, some mourn. Too many will take little or no notice that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died yesterday.  One death among so many, does it matter?

Time and who replaces her will tell,  in part. Also, whether we’ll continue to put our thumbs on the scales of justice and lift her blindfold in whatever name we choose.  And we’ll also learn, during these next few months, how much division  our democracy can  handle?

Well, I hope even those who disagree with her judicial decisions will honor RBG as one who fought for justice and loved this country.  To gain insights into the true measure of a person, it helps to know how their adversaries perceived them.  The late Antonin Scalia, Ginsburg’s  antithesis in ideology, viewed her as a close friend with whom he shared a love of opera.  Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said of her in today’s Boston Globe,” Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her—a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

So, when all is said and done, legacies are our leftovers, that which remains after our life ends on earth. Which is one reason I go to funerals, when possible.  They give me a chance to take stock of my life to date, to ask of myself and God, how to use/invest what’s left of my time?  To examine what kind of  story am I writing?

Well, one of my favorite stories in the Bible comes from John 6.  It’s about 1 boy+ 2 fish+ 5 barley loaves + 12 helpless disciples + more than 5,000  hungry people. But at the heart it’s about Jesus with a twinkle in his eyes and a stack of empty baskets nearby.  God only knows where they came from. The baskets, not the people.

Anyhow, to condense the story, Jesus takes, then blesses a small boy’s lunch,  miraculously multiplying it into a picnic to ponder for the ages.  The Bible says that everyone had plenty to eat.  Then Jesus told his disciples,  “Now,  gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” (John 6:12, NLT) And they collected twelve full baskets. One picnic- party- favor for each astonished disciple.

So what does this have to do with Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Just this.  While life’s no picnic, for most, her life, like ours and the lunches entrusted to us,  matter to God. Though unnamed to us, the mama who packed the lunch and the boy who gave it to Jesus became partners with God in creating something bigger than either could’ve imagined.  They simply offered what was in their hands.

And legacies and leftovers matter. God gathers so nothing’s wasted.  The bits and pieces of our lives ,God scoops up as sacred scraps. Sometimes I’m slow to hand over my lunch. I’m like one of those seagulls screeching, “Mine! Mine! Mine!” But when I do, whether I get to see it or not, I’m willing to bet God transforms it into something better than I could’ve imagined.

So, to Ruth Bader Ginsburg I say, “thank you for sharing your lunch.” Your life on earth is over but not your legacy. And to the rest of us I add that it’s not too late to offer our lunches, no matter how meager they seem.

Jesus, the Lord of Leftovers, waits with open hands, twinkling eyes and a stack of empty baskets within reach.

Impossible people and picnics are his specialty.




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