her·i·tage [ hérritij ] (plural her·i·tag·es)
- something somebody is born to: the status, conditions, or character acquired by being born into a particular family or social class
- riches of past: a country’s or area’s history and historical buildings and sites that are considered to be of interest and value to present generations ( often used before a noun
- something passing from generation to generation: something that passes from one generation to the next in a social group, e.g. a way of life or traditional culture
- legal inheritance: property or land that is or can be passed on to an heir
[13th century. <> hériter (see heritable)]
Every Memorial Day weekend that we are in town, my family and I step back in time for a little while, joining our fellow Mountaineers in a little thing called the Vandalia Gathering. This year marked the 32nd annual such celebration. It’s a joyful time…a time to dance and sing. Pockets of musicians are scattered all over the capital grounds. We seek shelter from the sun under the lush trees that pepper the lawn. Children wade in the fountains, and are chased away by frustrated security guards. Crafters hock their wares: works of art labored over with love. There are music competitions: best fiddler, best dobro, and so on. We even have a liar’s competition, which is something to behold. On one end of the Capital complex, the cloggers and other dancers gather, swinging partners to the call of the white-haired gentleman with the strong rhythmic voice.
This heritage is not mine, though it tugs on my heart. I’m almost sure there was someone in my family tree that clapped their hands this way, tapped their feet. Was there one who played the fiddle? A lover of mountain music, lifting voice in that wavery fragile harmony of the bluegrass I love? I feel it in my soul. These are the riches of the past. The somethings passed down from generation to generation.
When I am surrounded by traditions I am never more aware of the lack of these precious gems in my life. I feel rootless, boundless, unfettered. Yet, instead of fancy free, this lack of roots leaves me floundering, hanging in limbo. I have nothing to sink my feet into, nothing to hold onto, nothing of the past from which to draw nourishment.
My earthly heritage tells a story of brokenness, but my spiritual heritage rewrites the pages of my life.
Still, while in the confines of this earthly tent, I watch.
I still have much to learn about creating a heritage for my children. Each time we share in a tradition or celebrate a special occasion, my feet sink deeper into the ground. I am building a foundation. One that will not fall.
When it comes to the spiritual heritage of my children, I do not merely watch. I lay each stone, one by one…carefully and precisely. This is a dance I can participate in. The heritage of loving the Lord.
West Virginia has a heritage of Coal mining.
A perfect seat.