In my home library of films I have one called PAN'S LABYRINTH. This movie, made in Spain, is a fairy tale/fantasy/life imitating art/real life story of a girl who in the midst of the cruelty of the Spanish Civil War (1936-40) saves her infant brother's life by sacrificing her own (the Christ theme). Her death is the occasion for her to be reborn to a new life of peace and eternal life (The Salvation theme). At the end of the movie there appears on the screen these words: "She left small traces of her time on earth visible only to those wise enough to look for them."
To some extent the world we live in, and the world that has always been as far back as the one we see in the movie 1,000,000 B.C., has been a world where the traces of our having lived in that world are sometimes hard to find. Who in this year 2011 can tell us who Amico Bignami was or Elijah Lovejoy or Vaclav Havel or Lucretia Mott or Leonidas La Pucelle D'Orleans or Hugh Latimer or William Rontgen or Charles Dodgen are or were? The perplexing thing about these persons is, they made the world healthier or richer or more beautiful or more liveable because of their small traces. Yet in this age of our knowledge of nuclear power and complicated mathematics and science that boggles our mind these living souls are unknown to most of us even though their traces leaves to us more than any science will ever do.
Well, lest we find it difficult in our busy lives to look up Lucretia Mott or Vaclav Havel to see the effects of their footprints in our lives and our world perhaps we can take one moment each day to be wise enough to look for traces within our own households. To look is to see the traces left by our own children, traces we seldom acknowledge or even recognize, the traces of our husband or wife which are left in our lives every day, the signs of our parents which we sometimes eulogize at their funerals but seldom during their life's journey with us, a neighbor perhaps, or someone in our community, that person who has touched our lives, or perhaps tried to, while they and we were still living. How many times have we said to ourselves, "O, I wish I would have told her (grandmother, grandfather, uncle, aunt, cousin, brother, sister), how much I loved them? The fact that we feel this debt to someone from our past is witness to our sometimes delayed acknowledgement of the traces they left in our lives.
Today, perhaps, or tomorrow at the latest, we may leave off the TV, the newspaper, a few minutes from our job, and create a few traces of our own in the sands of this human community. Then, perhaps sometime in the future, others will be wise enough to look for the traces of love and patience and courage and kindness and forgiveness and generosity which we have planted in and for them.