What is your earliest memory? I’ve read that around 3 is about the time memory can kick into action as that is about the point in our development when we discover we’re our own persons. Hmm, it took me much longer than that to figure out I could be my own person. Or, maybe I knew it but didn’t remember it. Anyway, again, what is your first memory? The very first thing I remember is a bright light and being held down against my will. I remember not being happy about this but, thankfully, I don’t remember pain in this memory. At some age I was told about an incident in our backyard that occurred when I was about two years old. Apparently I picked up one of those plastic practice golf balls off the ground at the precise moment my sister was in full swing towards it with one of my dad’s golf clubs. The hole in my head was not exactly the hole in one she was after. I was rushed to the emergency room and received some dandy stitches, the scar of which decorates my forehead even all these decades later. So, I have concluded that the bright light memory I have comes from the emergency room experience of being held down for stitches.
As I guess all families have stories that get passed down, this was one of those stories that got repeated through the years in my family. I’m sure it wasn’t my sister’s favorite. I think she’s felt responsible for the pain of the world ever since. When, in fact, she does more than her share of trying to relieve the pain of others. (Proof perhaps that memories have a hold on the future?) I’ve heard the story of the golf clubs and the backyard party that was going on, the reason the clubs were brought out in the first place. My sister having to stay behind with my grandparents while my parents took me to the hospital. I’ve heard about getting to have ice cream after enduring the whole stitch trauma. I heard the story so many times as a child that at some point the hearing of what happened blurred with my memory of what I experienced so that I could no longer separate what I heard from what I truly remembered. It all became “membered” together.
I’m not sure what has brought this silly incident to the forefront of my consciousness again. But it has made me think about how important it is to tell our family stories and to tell them often so that we can fill in those memory gaps for each other, and so we can affirm our identity in one another. I have shared with you in a previous post that I have a granddaughter in the neonatal icu unit at a local hospital, born early so we all must wait until she is big enough and strong enough to go home with her family. My daughter is keeping a page of updates on her on a caring website. Beautiful posts that speak of her progress, her prayers and hopes, and their gratitude for the love and support of God and family and friends. Many have expressed to my daughter how much they appreciate her updates. She told me that what she is really doing is creating a memory of all of this. A memory to share with her daughter as she grows so that she will know all of the love and prayers and support she received in her start of life. Memory for them all to see the ways God has been with them in the difficult times and in the joys of the moment. Memory of God’s presence in the past so that they will remember to trust God’s presence in their future journeys. I wonder if my granddaughter will have the slightest true memory of any of this. Highly unlikely at her tiny age. However, I am so thankful to know that through my daughter’s loving words, the experience of this courageous one’s entry into life will be “membered” into her mind’s eye forever.
God told the Israelites to tell the story of the Passover. To remember the time when God delivered a people out of slavery. A deliverance born of a love which intended for them to be future vessels of blessing to the world. A loving freedom to be remembered for themselves and for future generations. A story to be told over and over again so that the memory could be grafted into their children’s hearts to enable them to love God and to love their neighbor. They didn’t do it perfectly, but faithfully in their brokenness. Time and time again their memories needed to be refreshed. We too, on the resurrection side of Jesus, are called to do the same. To remember the love and grace we have been given, to live it’s memory in our present, and to be that love for the future memory of others. I wonder sometimes, in the midst of all of the doctrinal and political arguments that plague the church today, if perhaps we have forgotten to remember. And I wonder, what future memories are being grafted into our children through what they are seeing in us today? Will they remember love? Something to chew on…