Treasuring Pleasant Memories as Modes of Divine Presence
The holiday season is, for many, a time of sadness. It can be especially sad if we have lost, or are losing, loved ones. And sadder still that during these pandemic holidays we cannot gather the way we once did, at least with everyone present. The most vulnerable in our families must stay away.
In dealing with this sadness, I have learned something from my own friends and loved ones with dementia. It is that memories of the past holidays, as glimpsed through photos and heard through music, can be modes of divine presence: ways that we are touched by One in whose heart we live and move and have our being.
No, not all memories are pleasant. Some are traumatic. But some are pleasant in the richest sense of the word: they offer a pleasure that is as pleasing to God as it is to us. In the language of Christianity, pleasant memories can themselves be sacraments, sources of momentary and divine nourishment.
We do ourselves a disservice if we look too much to the future, or even to the present, as the only place that God meets us. God meets us ever so beautifully, and sometimes only, through the past as remembered in the present. I am grateful to my sisters and brothers with dementia for reminding me of this. They are my teachers in the arts of memory treasure.
- Jay McDaniel
"I can't feel hope but I can remember it." a note from Reverend Teri Daily Episcopal Priest and Pediatrician