Rome’s legacy is as transparent as any in the world. Centuries lie out in the open, marketed for all to experience. Some of the stories I grew up with were exaggerations of history, like the Christians being martyred in the Collesium. Yet Christians did die, including two hundred and fifty burnt at the stake one evening to Nero could have some light for his supper. The history of Rome is littered with wars, intrigue, and murder. With time the anger, exploitation, and violence seems to diminish, however the outcomes are still painfully obvious if one cares to see beyond the surface.
Yet even with the knowledge of what lies beneath there is incredible beauty and things of wonder. The strength of the building, the inbuilt awe in the design, and the incredible mathematical genius that went into the artwork, facades, and streets defies one understanding. How could a society this advanced fall into the traps they did? Were things so boring and repetitive that the only joys to be found in life came through exploiting and manipulating others? Where was a higher purpose?
As we walked the streets I wondered what my legacy will be. In many ways the course of whatever I contribute has already been establish. Yet there is still much to be written. Of this I have far more control than I realize. I don’t have to succumb to the wills of society around me. There are gifts of freedom and choice available if I desire. Even the legacy of the past does not need to bind me.
I look over my shoulder and realize that my prayer today for those I was close to in years past is the same as it will be future about those I care about today. God, “I'm no longer going to be visible in the world [to them]; they'll continue in the world while I return to you. Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me, so they can be one heart and mind” (John 17.11)
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