Posts Tagged ‘memory’

futurepicThere are many roads we take in life and it’s best to understand from the beginning, those roads cannot be traversed again in reverse. They are one-way streets. Thus saith the Lord.

” . . . because the Lord told you: “You will never go back by that road again.” [Deuteronomy 17:16b]

I hadn’t really thought about this before but it’s meaning jumped from the page. We may think, like the old adage that were are going “two steps back and one step forward” or we might assume, that one could “backslide” and fall into old bad habits or old friends or old situations. But the truth is that time marches only forward in our human world. And no experience can be repeated in the same way because we are already older because of it.

My adopted Russian daughter often bemoans her inability to return to her native land to see the city of her grandmother and the places where she played as a child. But those places are long gone already, trees that embraced climbing children have been cut down and woods replaced with roads and bridges. That world is gone. Nor will her St. Petersburg ghetto look the same, even if the buildings are still there, she would not be able to see them with the same eyes of childhood.

I, too, experienced this throwback when I traveled to Indianapolis last week for a conference. I walked the old streets, once known for danger and poverty, now filled with brightly colored “painted ladies” and signs announcing the charms of living on the “Near Northside.”


Lines Hold the Memories by Agnes Cecile.

All we have is memories and they are capricious at best, unreliable and re-framed by the world that came afterwards. We color our memories because we have to or because we don’t really remember. We forget on purpose then or we pick through the images most vividly repeatedly in the time capsule we assign to reruns.

Like Robert Frost, we pick our roads as best we can, based on what we know in the moment, on that day. We pick and we walk and sometimes we look back, maybe even run back to try another, but the intersection is no longer the same, the circumstances that added up to that choice have changed.

There is no point either, crying over what has been lost, for we’ll never know exactly what that “would” have been or “could” have been. We only have today, or now, and tomorrow.

Evil sometimes tries to re-write the past to serve its purposes for the moment; that being done by both evil regimes, governments or dictatorships as well as personal evil presence and people. Those false memories have only as much power as we choose to give them.

And so it is, for this reason, that I am grateful for a faith rooted in the God of “new creation” [2 Corinthians 5:17], of redemption and forgiveness. The Christ, who brings hope and renewal. Yesterday cannot be relived but the influence and even catastrophic scars can be absorbed and although the past is not rewritten, it’s power can be mitigated and softened. We don’t need the details of back then. We need trust in what will be and can be.

We are given the gift of possibility through the redeeming work of Christ Jesus. This I believe.

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Despite the fact that “eyewitnesses” usually screw up the details of what they witness, they do get the big picture: they know it was a bank robbery, a car accident, a outpouring of power. And then, too, repetition tends to solidify an account, like one miracle after another.

II Peter 1:15-16
And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Peter was “all in” (the new phrase moving through contemporary churches). While accompanying Jesus he was a doubter, a slacker, and a chameleon even, but once the Christ was revealed fully through his death and resurrection, he got it. It was just at the point when his world fell apart that his world fell together. And there was no turning back. There was only forward and the story, that one story that everyone had to hear.

In the same way that people recount eye-witnessed tragedies over and over again(the falling of the twin towers, the floods, the tsunamis, etc.), so also would transformative experiences be on the tip of the tongue. We remember because we tell the tale. Families reminisce at the dinner table and stories live on, memories are stirred, feelings are reborn. Where there was joy, joy is recreated (and the same for sorrow, but somehow, the sorrow is more tempered by time).

What is my story? Isn’t my writing part of this process? Remembering, reviewing, reliving. Re-re-re… again and again.

Thirty plus years ago, I encountered Peter’s same Christ, and it was real and true and life changing. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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