Memorial Day is a time to remember pastPublished 3:35am Monday, May 27, 2013
Memorial Day and other days and seasons, are when we honor, celebrate, and rethink accomplishments of the past. These are times when thankful persons gather their splendid memories with a mixture of sadness, sorrow, and community spirit.
The following thoughts are offered as an encouragement for all of us to not neglect that which is past. Past tense for the human family is, in many ways, never past!
In gathering in a spirit of national patriotism, we have hours of reminders, renewal, and for me, a prompting to other forms of recall.
Recalling the past can be a discipline of creating a whole life. Persons, events, places, and relationships — when we focus on the “good stuff” — may remove calendar time. A certain commodity or experience of the past may, for awhile, not be May 1958, but May 2013!
A world renowned architect from England, Christopher Wren, it seems, kept company with the angels! The photographs of his buildings with a spiritual purpose, are commonly acknowledged as materials of this world created to reach toward Heaven.
In student days, when in London, England, I spent some time at St. Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Christopher Wren. A particular concert there was lovely. What can best be said, what kind of physical art form could best sustain this man’s memory?
The scholars had to be consulted and you know scholars — at least British men and woman. You write an epitaph in Latin! Translated: “If you would see his monument, look around.”
We do memorialize and in these days, think please, with appreciation of those men and women of the military honored by the War Memorials in Washington, D.C.
An encouragement to greater health and expanded wisdom, are from examples found in the writings of Wendy Lesser. Her book, “Nothings Remains the Same,” is about her many experiences of “going back,” In great literature of the past, she is practicing a behavior that I summarize as “let nothing of the values of the past be lost!
Ms. Lesser, has in recent years, challenged us in her lectures and writings. Her advice is to go back and reread what you have read twenty, thirty, forty years ago. Her suggestion is, that the second time around is to relive a story with a very different journey. She speaks of a “frame of mind” that most would agree, is over a period of time, and undergoes an immense change. Even visiting a particular site, a school of the past, may produce amazing surprises. “I can’t believe what I missed back then!”
For me, while in high school, the announcement, with prayers, that Bob Hoffus had died in a battle in South Korea, was my first-hand encounter with war. Bob was the youth director of our church in Stevens Point, Wis.
The rehearsal of memory may sometimes be overwhelming. When my son, at the age of Bob’s death, might be part of a branch of military, you are right: An event of 20 years earlier, similar to the emotions many of you experienced, gave us days of combined ice and heat.
Ms. Lessings book, very worth one’s reading, and exploring her manner of the reading again, results in beautiful benefits. We become personally informed on how, over time, our attitudes and beliefs have changed. We see characters in a story in a new light; they are “different” because we are in a different place in our lives. Our experiences in years between an original reading of a book and today’s reading, provide a kind of dipstick into who we are today.
For example, in rereading the story of the Prodigal Son (Bible, Luke 15), we may no longer see the runaway son as a selfish runaway brat. When we have read the parable at age 16, we may have celebrated his individualism, his quest for freedom. Looking at the story at age 46, we may see ourselves in the story as mature persons seeking a sane and secure home. The story, like other realities, “fits us” in a manner that tells us something new about a philosophy of life.
Think of looking into the face of a veteran standing by a restaurant, offering a Buddy Poppy for a financial donation. The wrinkles in his face, we may believe, reflect the stress of many months in France. History is brought near. In fact, we are invited, out of our deeps, to close the gap between past and present!
To note what is worthy about going back to written material, is but one way of agreeing — nothing does remain the same.
I have embraced persons at a cemetery site, read Scriptures that grant a Divine promise to those who died serving their country. Prayers offered, in a place where past and present are brought together, proclaim a belief that, in death as in life, we live in a timeless mystery.