A Remembrance Of Things Past
There's a time when we all need explanations and well-thought-out reasons for things. We need to know exactly why something happened to us, or the detailed pros and cons of a decision we have to make.
In those moments we might go to trusted sources or friends who know will deal with us dispassionately as they deliver the facts.
But sometimes... the well-thought-out reasons aren't good enough, and they don't address the knot in the pit of our stomach, or the ache in our chest from a broken heart.
Sometimes the facts of the matter are simply not what we need to make sense of what we're struggling with. Sometimes you need a poet to provide the words and images that describe how you really feel.
Poets have the unique ability to capture the color of a moment, to draw connections between the clouds in the sky and the ones in your heart. Poets throughout the ages have given us images that imprint glory on our souls and brought us ever closer to God when reasoning and analysis failed to do so.
And poets help us to remember, or at least to remember how to remember...
Take this poem by the 13th-century poet Rumi, for example:
I said all of this
and for the rest
go and think for yourself
and if your brain is stuck
then begin whispering remembrance
remembrance will elate the brain
make that the sunshine of your
There's a lot going on in that short snippet of a poem, but the line that speaks to me today is this: "...begin whispering remembrance..."
While I know that it's not all that productive to keep returning to the past, sometimes you need to call to mind a remembrance of things past in order to see the present a bit more clearly.
The Psalms are full of these exhortations by the various psalm writers, asking God over and again to "bring to mind," or "never let me forget," the lovingkindness of God, the memory of Jerusalem, the glory of the Temple, the joy of fulfilling God's purposes.
I think that's why the word "remembrance" is so important here. The poet imbues it with layers of meaning that go beyond a mere memory, which could be flawed at best and completely wrong at worst.
Remembrance has to do with the feelings that were felt in a particular moment---deep feelings that permeated our very bones, leaving bits of themselves all through us.
It could be the fact that it's cold, grey, and rainy today, but I am filled with remembrances of things past this morning. Some of these deeply embedded feelings fill my heart with a bittersweet and joyful sensation. Others make me feel like I might fall to my knees any moment and begin sobbing.
I want to be filled with all of these remembrances. They have become a part of me, and they both form and inform who I am and who I am becoming.
Maybe you have some remembering of your own to do today as you try to make sense of your life and the world around you. I pray that you will find the space and the grace to do it and to be kind to yourself in the process.
Know that the God who brought you through all of the pathways of your past is with you now and will be with you in all your days to come----guiding you, loving you, and imprinting you with remembrances you will call to mind when the time is right.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.