"Memories to Savour"
The intentional practice of remembering moments that were a gift from God.
Memory allows us to “savour” the many gifts God has given us. I am trying to establish this as a more regular practice, so I thought I’d share with you how I arrived at this point…
I had been noticing how exceptional the early Spring weather has been here in Australia – the last week has been stunning! I am beginning to believe winter may be behind us (although I say that cautiously).
My kids are looking forward to the September/October school holidays as the weather warms up. The October Long Weekend is getting closer which heralds the beginning of Daylight Savings and longer afternoons. The local grocer is getting some early season mangoes on the shelves, so the better mangoes are not too far away! I love all the varieties of fruits that signal “summer is on the way” … and that means my wife will soon be making mango smoothies! I love summer mangoes!!
But Summer passes way too soon, before we’ve really had a chance to relish the gifts it provides.
It would have been nice to have our Canadian grandchildren fly out with their mum and dad in the New Year, but that looks unlikely due to Covid. I had hoped that Joanne and I would get to ride in a few bicycle classics with hundreds of other riders, but Covid stole those from us too. I’m still hopeful we can get away to our beloved Snowy Mountains over Christmas; last year it was not Covid, but the bushfires that stole such precious times from us.
I always enter summer with higher hopes than can possibly be met. Thankfully, lest we despair, God has given us a grace to rescue our hearts when lovely moments pass too quickly, or when we haven’t had the chance to get the Sabbath we need. This grace is found in a surprising practice.
Before I unpack that practice… we need to be honest about the common occurrence of loss that has become so constant, that we’ve grown completely numb to it. It is our inability to make time stand still. We can’t do it, not even for a moment. No sooner have we stepped into recalling some wonderful life experience - whether it’s a birthday; a fantastic holiday; that Christmas morning when you were nine years old and you unwrapped that present you’d been pestering your parents all year long for - and suddenly those moments get swept away in the unceasing river of time, swept far downstream and out of reach.
Every precious moment will suddenly be “last week, last month, last year” before you can even blink… such is the pace of our world today. It steals these moments from us.
Few of us remember the taste of our first ice cream - do you recall what flavour it was? What about the first book we read, or movie we saw on the big screen - do you remember the title?
When we fail to recall such events, it is a loss! The speed at which we live our lives, every endearing moment is being swept away even as you read this sentence. And it does such harm to our human spirit and our life with God.
When I was a child, I used to hate it when one of my parents would say to me as we came to the end of our traditional summer holiday: “All good things must come to an end.” I hate that phrase… it reminds me of finger nails scraping on a chalkboard; or dirt falling on a casket!
To rescue us from such despair, God actually gives us “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11) … To be more specific, Jesus said in Revelations that He will one day make all things new again! So, all good things do NOT actually come to an end at all. Not even close!
In the meantime, God in his mercy has also given us the grace for this recurrent, incessant, unavoidable, daily experience of loss. That gift is memory.
It is through memory - if we make use of it – we can go back and drink more deeply, savour more fully, and take in the full gift of wonderful moments we’ve been blessed with. It is actually my experience that the full gift of those moments can never be truly taken in as they unfold… but only much later as they are reflected on and appreciated more fully.
I was at home recently by myself. To pass time, I was tempted to grab my phone (this is what we all do now, without even thinking) and scroll through news, posts, messages, my inbox. But that wasn’t what my heart needed, and I knew it. My soul needed “summer”; it needed something to remind me of joy. I needed to choose not to just surrender to the magnetic draw of technology that leads to busyness, but to go back and drink more deeply of a sweet gift of summer that passed too quickly.
I opened my phone’s photos and began to drift back through years of images. Eventually, my heart was drawn to a particular image that reminded me of a special day’s fly fishing with one of my sons in the Snowy Mountains.
It was high on a mountain stream, a region that was not easily accessible. We were surrounded by snow gums and early morning mist rising off the stream. The fast-flowing water cascaded down, fall after fall over well-hewn rocks and boulders. The sound of that rushing stream filled the canyon with the wonderful sounds that only moving water makes. There were large majestic pools, but that is not normally where the trout are hooked. Between the larger pools are these smaller ‘bubble runs’ (lines of foam and bubbles flowing downstream) where trout congregate underneath, poised to strike at any insect that fall into these ‘bubble runs’. We stalked and cast to those runs with all the patience of skilled hunters pursuing their prey. That day we landed around 30 fish - all catch and release, and if I recall correctly, I think my son caught about 20 of those trout! Most of that day involved trudging through cold fast flowing water mile and after mile, and by the end of that day we had gone so far upstream, we barely had the energy to hike back out. Back when we eventually arrived back at the 4wd, as we stripped our waders off, we sat by the waters and rested our weary bodies, enjoying a well earned snack before the drive out.
Oh, what I’d give to do that day all over again!
As I remembered that beautiful day sitting at home alone (a day that truly was a gift to me and my son) - my heart began to settle down. I let out a deep sigh. I was at peace and became immediately aware of the goodness of God. I worshipped Him and gave Him thanks. “Thank you for that special day Abba” I whispered in prayer. I thanked a good God for the sweet souvenir that it was. Revisiting it allowed me to see so much to treasure in it; the mayflies; dragonflies; the smell of damp moss on the rocks; the contrast of a hot day and cold mountain stream; the magnificent Rainbows and Browns we landed; the joy on a teenage boys face! I also remembered how extremely fatigued we both were. Not stressed, but a ‘good tired’, that healthy “been-in-nature-all-day” tired.
What a wonderful gift it was.
And the beautiful thing is, that day became even more of a gift to me through the intentional practice of remembering it. We can all do that by deliberately recalling a special memory, going back and lingering in it, enjoying it all over again.
Memory allows us to “savour” the many gifts God has given us. I need to do this more often, so I can establish this as a regular practice for my heart.
May I recommend you try this redemptive use of your own smartphone? We all have a library of memories within our photo folders. Pull out your phone during a break, but instead of checking for messages, or going to your inbox, browse through your photos, allowing Father God an opportunity to surprise you with an image that takes you back to a particular day. May I suggest allowing God to choose the image and the day for you? You will know it when you see it, just keep browsing until an image ‘launches off the screen’ and captures your attention. In other words, don’t you pick the memory – let Holy Spirit pick the memory for you!
Give yourself permission to try it.
Be sure to pray and invite Father God into the process before you begin. Let Him guide you into a precious moment. When one image “jumps out”, linger there, savour the gift of memory. And give thanks to a Holy God for what He brings to your recall about that day.
I hope this brightens your view of the summer that lays ahead, and hopefully seeds the idea of rescuing memories to savour – memories that until now have been hidden away in the river of time.
Go and ‘fish’ a few out…
It’ll do your heart good!
Lots a love,
Until next time…
Flyfishing photo By Ziga - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1957090
Other images from Pexels.