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Lent a time to reflect on memories

Published 5:34pm Saturday, February 25, 2012

“Memories of Roger Noble.” The liturgy of the funeral for a man who had lived a full life of gentle years, was part of the worship service on Feb. 16, 2012. The celebration of his past at the Austin Christ Episcopal Church, in the recollections of a long-term friend, sighted the terrain of WWII, marriage, church life, the heroics of meeting struggles, a pleasant retirement, a wife cared for in her illness, grandchildren, and the love of some kind of French beverage!

All of these remarks were gathered into a drama. A drama, not unlike, ten-thousands of lives lovingly recollected in a time of “passage.” The wrap and woof of every life, especially a life lived into the 90’s, grants the impetus to savor MEMORIES.

In the Lenten season, especially, we may evolve even more into persons of wisdom. We can harness our meditation to what gifts — and sometimes regrets and sorrows — that may be bathed in our thoughts, emotions, and conversations.

The legacy of recasting the past

The theme and experience of memory is integral and an intrinsic part of the womb of all the major historic religions.

As a venue to the exploration of a Christian’s Lenten observance, we embrace the Lenten forty days. These days bring us to the last days of the life of Jesus. Let us reflect on the possibility that a focus on the past is fundamental to living the present.

A fragment of autobiographical thought in the writings of C.S. Lewis may enable one to place past and present in perspective. In his book Allegory of Love, Lewis writes of primary influences in his very literate life. He acknowledges, in reminiscing about formative persons in his life, that his greatest debt is to his father. “Now beyond repayment,” he states. Owen Barfield is lifted out of the many mentors and friends.

Recalling Barfield, “the friend to whom I have dedicated the book, (Allegory of Love), has taught me not to patronize the past, and has trained me to see the present as itself a ‘period.’” The encouragement I see in this word, “patronize” is utilize all that good stuff from your past. Please, please refuse to be a victim to perils, problems, and poisons.

Today’s renewal of our cherished story

The journey of Lent leads us to the trial and death of Jesus. The shadow of a cross is bent over each traveler. It is from Golgotha that the early church created a drama that anchors a great part of Christian theology.

The New American Bible, Luke, chapter twenty-three, portrays the excruciating hours of madness, mockery, mercy, and majesty that concluded the Savior’s ministry.

But listen. The Scriptures refer to criminals; two of them. What would become a basis of future declaration is the request of one of the men sentenced with Jesus, to death on a cross. Do you hear again a struggling voice, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Memory. “Please, don’t forget. My plea is to be with you, now and forever!” The requests made to the memory of Jesus, is a motif that every questing pilgrim may evoke.

We must not forget. God will not forget. Our spiritual path has the footprints of seeking, promise, and fulfillment. We need not, as C.S. Lewis wrote, patronize the past (memory), but to limit, deny, or squelch its import, may remove the blood from our veins. The wise person knows the music of delightful reminiscing; the joy and strength of past years.

The Biblical story is for Jews and Christians alike, replete with the cry and prayer to never blot out tradition and signposts. We are sons and daughters of autobiography. We are more than sealed packages that have our five minutes of fame or fad. Today’s lottery ticket is not for us. We choose not to live by chance. Spirituality is forfeited when cut off from our roots. Memory is our way of saying: “We will hang on to those roots!”

The now deceased Yale University professor, Jaroslav Pelikan, reminds us of a motto. He has quoted a leitmotif passage from Goethe that had moved him all his life: “Take what you have inherited from your fathers and work to make it your own.”

— Marvin Repinski is a minister in the United Methodist Church, now retired. He is an Adjunct Professor at Riverland Community College and a volunteer for several community agencies.

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