I love hearing stories. Stories about people’s lives. Stories about congregations. Stories about towns or other communities.
This morning I got to listen in as older members of a congregation told stories. Most of them began: “Remember when. . . .”
One of those members also told me about recent conversations she and her siblings have shared. Those conversations also focused on remembering as a way of processing their experiences during the pandemic and identifying the things that really matter to them.
As we all seek ways to move forward following a time of upheaval and uncertainty, perhaps remembering is what we need to do.
Remembering can help us identify what’s important to us. It can ground us—reminding of us of where we’ve been and providing perspective on where we want to go. It also can provide us with reasons for gratitude and hope—both of which help us treasure what’s really important in our lives as we move forward.
Perhaps even more powerfully, remembering can join us to others. It can link us to others in transformative ways.
Now that travel is becoming possible again, I look forward visiting friends in different parts of the country. I have no doubt that we’ll spend time remembering. We’ll recall things we’ve done, people we’ve known, places we’ve gone. Those memories provide a bond—and calling them to mind will wrap that bond around us.
It’s the same way with our families. Remembering special times spent together, stories handed down from generation to generation, or rituals held dear can provide the cement that holds our families together during times of crisis or conflict or just the routine of day-to-day life.
It’s also the same with church families. Remembering can help us identify the stories and individuals and experiences that have helped shape our faith journeys. It provides touch stones that can help us move forward.
As the essayist G. K. Adams wrote: “Sometimes in order to keep moving forward, not only must you take one step at a time, but you must be willing to look back occasionally and evaluate your past, no matter how painful it is. Looking back lets you know whether or not you are headed in the right direction.”
May remembering offer us that direction as we move forward.