In our families we share many things. Some things we receive from our beginning, like blue eyes, or tall stature, or curly red hair. Some are treasures passed down, like an old piece of furniture, a vase that has held everything from anniversary roses to dandelions from a child’s small hands, or a cherished recipe that traveled from a foreign land to our American table. Many things shared in our family circles bring joy and happy remembrance to our souls.
My great-grandmother brought an old German cookie recipe with her when she left her homeland as a teenager. Her nine children all remembered the rich scent of anise mixed with powdered sugar as she baked batches of those Springerle cookies each Christmas season. My Irish great-grandfather brought his knowledge of farming and his skills as a watchmaker to America, where his two sons would follow his footsteps into farming the rich Indiana earth. Jane, my great-great grandmother from Devon, England, passed down her sewing abilities to her own daughter, skills she had developed as a glove maker in her tiny village. My own mother learned to sew from her mother, a wonderful seamstress who fashioned her own wedding gown without use of a pattern.
Each family has valued traditions, personality traits, and abilities passed through the hands of time to later generations. But one thing that cannot be passed along or shared with anyone else is our personal responsibility to God, assured throughout the bible, and included in the Book of Ezekiel:
The one who sins is the one who dies. The son shall not be punished for his father’s sins, nor the father for his son’s. The righteous person will be rewarded for his own goodness and the wicked person for his wickedness. Ezekiel 18:20
Ezekiel’s words can bring us comfort as well, and peace in knowing that God will reward each of us for our own life, whether we live in righteousness or unrighteousness. Though there are many things we can share and pass on to those we love, our responsibility to God is ours alone.