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The Value of Memory

6 Comments 08 June 2010

Henri Nouwen was an author and priest among other things and he has written beautiful things that stir my soul.  I could spend an entire blog quoting from his writings and pondering the meanings of this and that, but on the particular subject of memories, I always think of this quote.

“Our hope is built on our memories.  Without memories there are no expectations.  We do not always realize that among the best thing we can give each other are good memories: kind words, signs of affection, gestures of sympathy, peaceful silences and joyful celebrations.  At the time all may have seemed obvious, simple and without many consequences, but as memories they can save us in the midst of confusion, fear and darkness…These memories might be dormant during our day-to-day living, but in times of crisis they often reveal their real revitalizing power.”

I started thinking about this quote because of what I feel like is my current loss of memory.  I feel like I can’t remember things as well as I did in the past.  Things like ideas or names or numbers.  I thought I was losing my mind, but my friend (and past counselor) told me that my brain is simply overloaded and stressed out.  But what is at stake is much greater than names or ideas for posts or even my phone number, for goodness sake, it is my soul!  Life is crushing, it is overwhelming if I allow it to be and I want to be conscious of two things, of giving those I love good memories and remembering the things, the thoughts and the stories that are of value to me.

I have realized that when I am quiet and take a moment, even just an hour or so to think or read or WRITE, that I remember.  I remember the things that are whirling around down in that soul of mine.  My mind can engage and I am able to connect with that soul.  Then there is the realization that more is going on inside this person than the craziness that seems to consume my days and I feel that hope that Nouwen speaks about.  But honestly, I struggle to be quiet, I want to tweet or read a post, or comment or google something or figure out how to become a better writer.

There is always something to do, but I am beginning to believe that if I do not discipline myself to both build memories and remember, then I will all but disappear and lose hope.  This blog actually helps me, it helps my memory.  I have to be still, if even for a few moments, to think, to ponder the things that stir my soul, the experiences that I have lived through today, and in my life, that are in my memory and worth sharing.

But on the flip-side, how easy it can be to spend time writing and not with those whom I long to make new memories with in the here and now.  Fine lines to walk all around me.

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6 Comments so far

  1. Jessica M says:

    I am currently reading his “Return of the Prodigal Son” and LOVE it!

  2. Cynthia Williams Insko says:

    Henri Nouwen is one of my favorites too. My favorite quote about remembering, though is from Frederic Buechner:

    “When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am in who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart.

    “For as long as your remember me, I am never entirely lost. When I’m feeling most ghost-like, it’s your remembering me that helps remind me that I actually exist. When I’m feeling sad, it’s my consolation. When I’m feeling happy, it’s part of why I feel that way.

    If you forget me, one of the ways I remember who I am will be gone. If you forget me, part of who I am will be gone.

    “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom,” the good thief said from his cross (Luke 23:42). There are perhaps no more human words in all of Scripture, no prayer we can pray so well.” from Listening To Your Life

    • Jorja says:

      Cynthia, I am a fan of Buechner as well. That is an amazing quote, don’t know that I “remember” it! I will go back and re-read Listening to Your Life. Thanks so much. Hey, I sent an e-mail to your iBloom friend and never heard back from her?!?

  3. Judy Helfand says:

    Jorja,
    I didn’t have time to read this post last evening. The week is crazy, but I want you to know that I understand exactly what you are describing. This morning I wrote a post and then came upon an article from today’s New York Times. And now I am reading your post. Wow! Here are the links to the NYT and mine. Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price – http://nyti.ms/d8hE8N this ties into my post http://bit.ly/dAU7Ug
    I think you will find both interesting, but for goodness sakes…relax and breathe.

    • Jorja says:

      Judy,
      I read your post and the article. Very interesting! I love it when my kids tell me they are bored! I think love to tell them to read or play outside! I played outside my entire childhood. Imagination is developed from playing, not from computers! The NYT article certainly made me think about my memory loss! Thanks.


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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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