Memory is powerful. The Christian discipline is about memory. It’s cup and bread. It’s water. It’s remembering Jesus, orienting our thoughts toward his holy memory. Jesus practiced holy memory. He went to Passover, read the Bible, and prayed. Jesus said that this is how we follow him, by remembering him and doing what he did. This is the whole mechanism that Jesus left for the church to use to guide itself – memories that we choose to be faithful to. When we choose to be faithful to the awareness of God’s activity in our history, we remember those moments and are able to orient to what is holy.
The concept of holy memory influences family life too. As we go through our day and meet new people, if we’re married, we remember that we’re married. When one of our children breaks curfew or has a fender bender or breaks a valued decoration in our home, at that moment, we remember that this is my child whom I love. As our parents face complex decisions of care and independence that come with aging, we remember to be faithful. Remembering who you are, and whose you are, orients you in the present moment.
Sometimes there are traumas in life (both Traumas “with a big T” and traumas “with a small t”). Trauma can orient you to this moment, or it can be disorienting. If I do the hard work of telling my story, I am able to connect this unique moment (no matter how challenging it may be) to the flow of all the other moments in my life. Memories have the ability to help us connect to what is valuable, what is precious in this life. Memory can become a map to what is holy.
To connect this unique moment in time of my own life to the flow of all of the other moments in my life, I have to tell the story of my life. To whom do you tell the story of your life?