This week I’ve been pondering, as many have, the end of this year. The spiritual practice of “Remembering” has become a helpful and comfortable place for me over the years. Like broken in jeans, or shoes, or that piece of furniture that has become contoured to your shape over time. I’ve recently been thinking of a Frederick Buechner book entitled, “A Room Called Remember.” The book is introduced and themed around a dream that Buechner had. He had a dream where he was staying in an incredibly euphoric hotel room but when he left it he found that he couldn’t find it again. He went to a front desk to explain his predicament, and the room, and the person at the front desk knew exactly the room he was speaking of, and he told Frederick that all he had to do was to ask for it by its name. When Frederick asked the attendant what the name of the room was, he was shocked to find out that its name was “Remember.” And so his book is a bit of a grab bag, and a weaving together of his personal experiences, thoughts, and scriptural insights all done in the poetic stylings of which Buechner is so gifted.
Well, I’ve been spending time in that ‘room’ as well lately, and part of how I’ve been doing that has been by committing to recording a song that I wrote years ago – over 20 years ago. It is a song called “Don’t Let Me Forget,” and for me, I suppose I imagine that it is the song that is playing on the radio in the room called “Remember.” At least for me, that is. Maybe some other song will come on if you make your way into there. Although, my hope is that if I play it loud enough, you’ll hear it in the hallways, the lobby, and even the courtyard by the pool, and you too will remember.
The Spiritual Practice of Remembering
We see the spiritual practice of “remembering” throughout Scripture: in the Psalms, through exhortations of the prophets, and in accounts like that of Joshua 4, where the Lord stopped the flowing waters of the Jordan until the Israelites had crossed and Joshua (their leader at the time) had them stack 12 stones as a memorial – to remind them what God had done.
In reflection of this Eugene Peterson wrote:
“Forgetfulness is one of the great breaches in our relationship with God, for when we forget His saving ways, either in biblical history or in our personal histories, the results are disastrous. Making memorials, whether they are stone monuments or journal entries, is the best way to keep from forgetting how good He has been to us” (The Message Devotional Bible, pg. 238).
So, this year I remember those things impossible to ignore: a pandemic, friends (one in particular) that died after contracting the virus, trips up to the Navajo Nation to share our resources with those serving the most vulnerable there, and a church staff hanging on for dear life as we navigated using technology to build community in ways that hadn’t been done before. I’ve had a q-tip jammed up my nose a few times (not fun), and spat into a tube a couple (I think I’m getting pretty good at it), and so…much…hand sanitizer. There were the cries of injustice–injustices that have been a constant simmer in our country for a long time, but came to a boil this year. There was the election (that’s all I’ll say on that one).
It was one of the hardest years of my life, but I recognize that God gave grace for every single thing. He got me through when my best prayer was, “Please God, no.” His grace was crouched ready to pounce around the corners of uncertainty, continually turning messes into art, and ashes into beauty. He sent messengers with encouragement…and cups of coffee.
I have been reminded (and more convicted than ever before) that following Jesus and living in His Kingdom means laying down your rights for the sake of others (Philippians 2:1-18). Prayer has felt desperate and continual this year, and I never want that to end. Every day has brought innovation in one way or another, and I have a feeling that can’t end if we are still going to be a Jesus-shaped community (“we” being the worship community that I help to lead, as well as my family).
But most of all, I remember who I was created to be – and I remember Whose I am. And that’s enough as the next year starts.
Yes, I’m done with 2020, but I hope I never forget it.
Peace of Christ to you.