Taking Time to Remember
This weekend we take time to remember and reflect on how we remember. In the moments between staying in bed, grilling and eating, sporting events, and retail sales, we take time to remember.
Remembering is not something we necessarily enjoy doing.
The real challenge for us is remembering what is more important. We take time to remember the people who shaped our lives and the things we believe with all our heart.
It is easy for us to forget and become impatient. We forget we are not really in a hurry, not really running late. Other people get in our way or slow us down and we forget we are trying to make the world a better place. We want to be on time, or early. There are so many things we are trying to do all at the same time and we forget.
We believe in taking time to be polite and gentle and respectful, but we forget. Remembering who we are becoming can be a challenge for us.
Each of us leaves tracks on the earth. No matter what other monuments or memorials we build, people follow our tracks. We can leave behind tracks of kindness and community, or the rushed marks of someone in a hurry.
How do we follow the tracks people have left for us? What tracks are we leaving for other people to follow?
We take time this weekend to remember who we are and where we hope to go. Who do we remember who took time for us, who left us a healthy trail to follow?
This weekend we take time to remember.
Who Do We Take Time to Remember?
We want to remember people who have shaped our lives. People who taught us how to tie our shoes, to read, to tell time, who showed us who we could become. People who gave their lives so we could exercise freedom, who protected us, who became examples for us to follow.
This weekend we may visit people in their final resting places, or in our own hearts and minds. We will remember how we spent time together, the joy and insight they helped us find. Parents and relatives, friends and teachers, we remember people who supported us and some who challenged us.
We remember people who encourage us. There is something unforgettable about the moment when another person tells us, “You can do this.” As much as our own core values sustain us, it means something when someone else recognizes we do something well. Each person who appreciates an insight we have had, or how we have listened, is a great memory.
I remember people who have listened to me. We learn lessons and find examples to follow when people give us opportunities to tell our stories. People who pay attention and ask good questions help us find the threads holding our stories together. Listening well is a tremendous gift to give someone.
It can be a challenge to forget when someone does not have faith in us. The key to remembering well is discovering the truths they show us.
Who we take time to remember is essential to who we are becoming.
How Do We Take Time to Remember?
Many of us work hard to make sure other people remember us well. We may be concerned about how they will remember us. Some people leave behind objects with their names on them to ensure other people are remembering.
A few of us build buildings or institutions. Some of us leave behind large families or bodies of work. Many of us leave behind memorials at the final resting places of our bodies.
We have become people who leave a trail of photographs behind us. We hope people will continue remembering us as we were.
There are places which seem to help us remember. Some locations, which have significant histories, emphasize remembering. They may have historic cemeteries full of memorials. There may be specific monuments and memorials to remind us to take time to remember. Some cities even put markers on buildings where particular people have lived.
Whether we leave markers or monuments behind or not, we leave our mark on the earth.
The questions of how we take time to remember sparks our insight. Many of us appear to ignore how we remember when we consider how we would like to be remembered.
Our challenge is to find ways to be remembered which reflect who we are. I wonder whether statues or photographs actually help people remember those who leave them.
What we want to take time to remember, and what we want others to remember about us, is elusive. We are not particularly concerned with remembering facts or figures. We would love to remember the sound of someone’s laugh or their ability to make us cry.
When Will We Take Time to Remember?
We try to squeeze remembering into this weekend because we believe this is when we are supposed to remember. Between all the other holiday weekend things we need to do, we remember.
It is almost as if we fill our lives with distractions and expectations to keep us from taking time to remember.
This weekend, of all weekends, we take time to remember.
This year we take time to remember all the people we have lost in the pandemic. We have lost, and are still losing, millions of people around the world. Many of us are rushing toward life “after the pandemic” or “getting back to normal.” We distract ourselves, refusing to pay attention.
Taking time to remember this weekend we will think the thoughts and feel the emotions of memory.
This weekend we will take time to remember with our hearts more than our minds.
Savoring our memories and beginning to create new ones, we take time to remember.
[Image by Maurits Verbies]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.