Where Do You Remember?
One of the core biblical traditions is to look at life through the lens of remembrance. Henri Nouwen refers to this as the “living reminder.” It’s the habit of a person or people to recount God’s goodness and the ways in which he’s been faithful to those who love him. While the stories we tell to remember certainly are important, so are the spaces in which we tell them or go alone to be reminded.
In a culture that clamors for our attention, finding a space to remember takes every bit of effort, every bit of fight, one can muster. It’s not enough to say, “I’m too busy for that.” Everyone’s busy. Still people make it happen. If we look honestly at how we spend our days, we might admit that they’re loaded with “fillers.” These are the things that might be more trivial, less important and less productive to our days’ purposes. But that doesn’t mean they’re all bad.
Sometimes we need that evening watching our favorite show to unwind; sometimes we need that time in the morning to fully wake up while reading the news on our phones. What I’m suggesting is if we name these things for what they are—fillers—we can, even without fully abandoning them, shave off five minutes here or ten minutes there to make space in our days.
Different people are able to enter into that space in different ways. Some of my best thoughts come while showering. But spending adequate time there for thoughts to continue permeating would result in a less-than-ideal water bill. So for me, entering into that space with God is best found in the mornings.
I have a routine in the morning of taking our dog out and then making coffee for my wife and I. Then I sit in an armchair, the same chair every morning, and read the scriptures and try to pray. Sometimes I don’t start reading right away but just sit there and try to pull myself in, center myself, attempting not to think about the day ahead and wait on God in the stillness and quiet of the morning.
It’s not every morning that I do this that I get something out of it—in other words, something new and profound to take into my day. Many days I read Scripture and take it as it is, not feeling particularly moved or changed by it. Some days I can barely pay attention enough to read and instead allow other distractions, like my phone, to grab hold of me.
But in all this, I would suggest that “getting something out of it” isn’t really the point. What matters is that you show up. That you put something into it. What matters is the discipline, developed over time, that by being fulfilled says, “Here I am, Lord. Say or don’t say anything. But know that I am yours.”
One of the pastors at our church recently said some of his best thoughts and connections with God come at the end of his runs. So much is the case that sometimes he looks forward to running solely because of that time at the end. Personally, I don’t share those sentiments toward running and have to remind myself it’s for the good of my body that I put myself through that. But everyone’s different.
A friend who works in coffee spends three hours of his shift filling retail bags with beans. He recently discovered ear protection to block out the noise of everything else going on around him. Now, those three hours filling bags are spent with his thoughts in connection to God.
For everyone that space to remember and be reminded of God’s goodness and strength will look different. Some people will know what kind of space they need and how to find it. For others, like my friend in coffee, that time and space will find them.
In any case, I’m convinced we already have what we need in front of us, that our days are filled with pockets waiting to be designated or reworked into a space for you and God to meet with one another. A space to remember and be reminded of all God has done, and the new thing he is doing now.
Where do you go to remember and be reminded?