I have been thinking about memories, both how we remember and forget. It seems there is grace in each, depending on what we remember and forget.
I just finished reading a memoir, Safekeeping: Some True Stories from a Life by Abigail Thomas. In it she poses a question about why we remember some things and not others. Many memorable times have some kind of emotion attached to them — enjoyment or pain. When we revisit memories, we might be searching for meaning. We make meaning from our lives and events and in the process, our memories are changed.
I listened recently to a podcast on memories and our need to forget, Memory and Forgetting on To The Best of Our Knowledge. Without the ability to forget, we have trouble moving forward. They mentioned a man who had a ‘perfect’ memory but had trouble functioning because every detail stood out so clearly in his mind. He could not prioritize. He could not move forward in life in his career and most likely had trouble in other areas of his life as well. Other people find it hard to move forward in life because they continue to be mired down in negative memories.
While it is important to remember that a hot stove will burn you, there are things that can be forgotten in a grace-filled life. I was reminded of a poem my mother used to read to me, The Boy Who Forgets. I found it in the Adventists’ Archives, in a Youth’s Instructor Newsletter published September, 13, 1910. Thank you to the Adventists who have made their archive available on the internet.
During the dog days of August, perhaps this poem will bring a bit of grace into your life. May we be given the grace to forget those things that deserve to be forgotten. I can’t help but think that this forgetting will bring us closer to wholeness.
The Boy Who Forgets
I LOVE him, the boy who forgets!
Does it seem such a queer thing to say ?
Can’t help it; he’s one of my pets ;
Delightful at work or at play.
I’d trust him with all that I own,
And know neither worries nor frets; .
But the secret of this lies alone
In the things that the laddie forgets.
He always forgets to pay back
The boy who has done him an ill ;
Forgets that a grudge he owes Jack,
And smiles at him pleasantly still.
He always forgets ’tis his turn
To choose what the others shall play;
Forgets about others to learn
The gossipy things that ” they say.”
He forgets to look sulky and cross
When things are not going his way;
Forgets some one’s gain is his loss;
Forgets, in his worktime, his play.
This is why I am taking his part;
Why I say he is one of my pets ;
I repeat it with all of my heart :
I love him for what he forgets!
~ Pauline Frances Camp, in St. Nicholas