“Getting our affairs in order.” This phrase has a dark undertone. As if an impending doom is very near. But, what if we began to log our “affairs,” learn from them, and share them. Although the concept of a spiritual will is not entirely new, there is a resurgence of the practice – no matter your belief system. So what is it? And how do we begin the process of creating one? It’s easier than you might think.
First, a brief history lesson: In the Jewish faith, an “Ethical Will” dates back centuries and emphasizes “a legacy of values over material things,” according to Beliefnet.com. It’s a concept that is gaining mainstream traction, crossing the barriers of religion. Referred to by many as a “Spiritual Will,” this document is created to pass on wisdom and values to future generations.
Simply put, your life experiences are gifts to be shared with your family. Poet William Arthur Ward once wrote “feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” So what should your present to future generations include? Start by charting the decades of your life. What stands out from each time period? People, places and events can each, in their own way, provide life long lessons. Be thankful, write it down, and pass it on! This can be an opportunity to make amends, as columnist Racheal Freed points out, “it may also affect the family, opening communication where there’s been resentful silence, strengthening relationships when the family has been estranged, beginning the powerful, spiritual process of forgiveness.”
There is no time like the present to start such a document. Whether you are living out your golden years or still waiting to become a grandparent, begin to journal now. As you reflect, your memories will begin to flood in. Write them down and then break them out into different life lessons. End each passage with a blessing for future generations. Simply put, this gift is far more lucrative then silver and gold. Freed says it best when she writes “writing this kind of letter we experience ourselves as a living link binding the past to the future.”