Memory is more than mere storage and recollection of facts. Our memories are catalysts for a diverse range of emotions: when we consider mistakes we have made, people we have hurt, victories we have won, risks that paid off, each one of these circumstances recalled to mind can change our whole outlook. We re-enter, at least in part, the experience of the moment. Indeed, more than recollection of words, memories can be triggered, or themselves trigger sensations of every variety. We can replay the nerves we felt, smell the surroundings, feel the touch of a person upon us. To remember is to embark upon a powerful journey, such that our present experience is changed.
No memory is detached from us. The fact that we remember it at all means that we have internalised an event or experience in some way. It has entered into us and become part of us. But, it seems that memories are stored away in different places, such that some memories are not allowed to influence others, allowing us to act in ways which are inconsistent with our own experience.
In the children’s movie, “The Lion King”, Simba the young lion is challenged by his father to “remember who you are…” by which he challenges him to take up his responsibilities. These memories had been locked away for Simba, and so changed his life as to make him almost unrecognizable from the lion he was raised to be. There are times when I hear the voice of God calling to His people in the same words: “Remember who you are…”
It is interesting to reflect upon memory in this way as we leave behind the high-point of the christian calendar – the time when we remembered our Lord’s suffering and death, and his resurrection by God. In what way do we remember this event? As a mere recollection of a story, telling the facts, and not much more? Or is there a sense of memory at work with other events in life – so powerful that they transform the way in which we can encounter and embrace life itself?
The challenge facing us in the path of following Jesus is to remember the things he has done for us, the things he has taught us, and try to incorporate them into our whole life experience… or try to shape our life’s choices around them.
It seems that remembering the Easter story is an integral part of that process.
April 18, 2004