“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I distinctly remember a conversation with a much younger Zeke in which I was trying to explain which friends I was referring to. It went something like this;
Me: “They live in London. We went to their flat when Anna went to hospital. The Mum has dark curly hair. They have three children.”
[cue brainwave on my part]
Me: “They had the Dumbo case?”
Whereas I might join the dots that connect my past life experiences by referring to people, or places or appearances, for Zeke (at that time) he joined the dots entirely by Disney DVD case ownership. If you happened to be the proud owner of a VHS Disney classics case (a very rare find) you became instantly unforgettable.
We all join the dots in different ways.
If you are a natural optimist you might join together the moments in which everything has gone right, and these collectively form the shape of your memory. For those of us with a more melancholic disposition the more imprinted memories might be of when we have fallen short and thus a different imagination of the past takes shape.
To remember means literally to re-member. To take the disparate limbs of our memories and reconstruct a coherent body, and to do so in a way in which makes sense (to us at least).
As Christians we bring not just our own individual memories (the painful and the haunting, the joy-filled and the mortifying) to this re-membering exercise but we are also invited to fit these memories within a far bigger story, a communal memory.
In my house right now there is gleeful anticipation that we are about to win the league. We haven’t won since 1990 but, as I write we have good management, a strong team and, crucially, a 23 point lead.
Just as my 11 yr old cheerfully joins with sports fans everywhere to claim for himself memories that precede his birth so I find that my fractured memories, my ups and downs sit within a much larger communal memory that gives them coherence.
As we join the dots today re-membering the therapy appointments, the disasters, the seizures, the triumphs, the breakthroughs and the slog we join the song of saints from millennia past. In Christ, their ‘we’ becomes ours.
“He turned the sea in to dry land
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves.
Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.”