I could not begin to guess the number of times I have said or heard the words: “Do this in remembrance of me” – part of the Eucharist prayer celebrated at the Holy Mass in places and times around the world. I imagine that across the globe, at every moment of time there is a voice speaking those words. At every moment of time there are believers gathered to worship and collectively remember the story we live by – the life and redeeming death of Jesus Christ.
They are holy words, but they are remembering words. Words spoken to us, encouraging, reminding, admonishing us to remember Jesus, all that He has done, and all that it calls us to be and to do. To ever remember Jesus who knows well the inherent limitations of what it means to be human – which includes forgetting. That limitation that becomes so evident for many of us as loved ones have been slowly taken over by Alzheimer’s disease. Loved one who can tell us the stories of growing up, regaling us with detailed accounts of younger days, and yet they are unable to recall what transpired just a few minutes past. Some memories are vivid, some memories lost forever.
We are limited creatures with limited capacity to remember. We encounter friends who tell us of a shared time together that was so meaningful for them. As they tell the tale, inwardly we awkwardly realize that we have no memory of this event that is so important to them. What did we do? What did we talk about? Who else was there? What was it that made it so memorable? All the while silently thinking, “please don’t ask me questions or for details!”
It is the norm for parents and children. Parents have such detailed memories about first steps, first birthdays, sleepless nights during an illness – and we, their children, remember none of what was so touching for them.
We may not have Alzherimer’s but too many of our days have slipped past some dark gate, faded and lost from view. Two weeks ago today – what were you doing? What do you remember about the day? Was it ordinary, joyful, interesting, routine – was there anything memorable about the day? How would you describe last year? Each of us can frame the telling in mentioning where we lived, our work, some key events, but these are just broad outlines. What about the ordinary conversations and events that make up the fabric of the days now past. Those are now lost.
Yet there are the treasured memories that we hold dear, stored in the vault of remembrance. Stories that glow with an ability to recall the emotion, the depth, and wonder of the moment. They are alongside the memories we’d sooner forget. And there are gaps in the vault. Gaps we can recognize, days now lost, but days still lived. Days that, however fragile and lost, still matter. Still matter to God.
We are forgetful. God is not. “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you” (Is 49:15-16)
We are eternally present to God, the whole of our lives. Not a day is lost. The ordinary and extraordinary, all written on the palm of His hand. Each one intimately matters to God.
The Eucharist, eternally present to us, as we “Do this in remembrance of me.” May we never forget or be without love for God. May these words be forever engraved in our hearts.
How lovely are these words:
“The ordinary and extraordinary, all written on the palm of His hand. Each one intimately matters to God.”
Thank you for a beautiful reminder . . .