A Week to Remember
This is a week for remembering and reflecting on how we remember. In the moments between working and sleeping in, grilling and eating, sporting events, and special sales, we will remember.
I have to admit remembering is not something I particularly enjoy doing.
It is not because I have a problem remembering facts or information. I am not good at remembering my passwords, but no longer need to remember phone numbers.
The real challenges for me are remembering what is more important. Life is about the people who shape my life and the things in which I believe with all my heart.
It is easy for me 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 is leaving our footprints on the earth. No matter what other monuments or memorials we leave behind, people can follow our tracks. We may leave behind tracks of kindness and community, or we might leave the rushed steps of someone in a hurry.
Are we leaving tracks someone might want to follow, or a trail of frustration?
Some days we are good at remembering where we are going and what is important. Other days we forget.
How we are remembering is central to who we are becoming.
Who Do We Remember?
We want to remember people who are shaping our lives. People who taught us how to tie our shoes, to read, to tell time, and who show 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 you, “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 are remembering is essential to who we are becoming.
How Do We Remember?
Many of us work hard to make sure other people will remember us. We may be concerned about how they will remember us. Some people leave behind buildings with their names on them to ensure other people will remember.
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 physical remains.
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 me remember. Some localities, which have a significant history, emphasize remembering. They may have historic cemeteries full of memorials. There may be specific monuments and memorials to remind us 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 remember sparks our insights. Many of us appear to ignore how we remember when we consider how we would like to be remembered.
There are monuments and memorials which can help remind us. Our challenge is to find ways to be remembered which reflect who we are. I wonder whether statues or photographs actually help us continue remembering those who have left them.
What we want to remember, and what we want others to remember about us, is elusive. I am less concerned with remembering facts or figures. I would love to recall the exact sound of someone’s laugh or their ability to make me cry.
When Will We Remember?
We try to squeeze remembering into this week because we believe this is when we are supposed to remember. Between all the other holiday things we need to do, we remember.
It is almost as if we fill our lives with distractions and expectations to keep us from remembering.
This week, of all weeks, we take time for remembering.
We stop and catch our breath, breathing deeply of everything we have forgotten. The sounds and smells, sights and tastes remind us of what we want to remember.
Immersing ourselves in remembering, we think the thoughts and feel the emotions of memory.
We will not forget again this week. It is a time for remembering and sharing who and what we remember. We will share our stories and help each other remember what is most important to us.
This week we remember with our hearts more than our minds. We will savor our memories and create new ones together.
What will we remember this week?
Who do we hope to remember today?
[Image by richardhe51067]
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.