Oct 24 2018

November Journal – Taking It Home: Re-Membering Who We Are

Published by at 6:24 pm under Minister's Musings

Taking It Home: Re-Membering Who We Are

by Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones


All that we have ever loved

And all that we have ever been

Stands with us on the edge

Of all that we aspire to create:

A deeper peace,

A larger love,

A more embracing hope,

A deeper joy in this life we share.

Rev. Leslie Takahashi


           “What does it mean to be a people of Memory?” asks our November theme. With pressing worries and urgent calls to action demanding our attention at home and in the world, and with midterm elections and important propositions on the November 6 ballot, it may seem odd to turn our attention to memory this month. Do we have time for this? More specifically, who has time for this? Isn’t rummaging through the past a spiritual practice that only well-off folks can do?

           Our annual Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead celebration teaches us that the act of remembering can bring wholeness and strength to everyone. On Sunday, November 4, we bring to worship photos and mementos of our loved ones who have died—relatives, pets, and other important people who have had an influence on our lives. We place these symbols on our big bright altar, and we share memories about those lives. The spirits of those we love draw close, and we have a chance to learn from them once again.

           We bring the past into the present in order to know that we are not alone. As the Rev. Leslie Takahashi says in her poem, “all that we have ever loved and all that we have ever been stands with us”—right now. When we reach down to touch our deepest roots, when we call on the strength of our ancestors, we remember what makes us who we are today. We lift up the messy and painful memories as well as the joyful and encouraging ones. Because, as one of our Soul Matters friends says, “it is in the space of memory that we are somehow held together, and also re-assembled. As we remember, we are re-membered.” Naming where we come, and from whom, puts us back together again … better than before. With the practice of re-membering, we wake up to who we are now, to what we need to do, and to who we want to be as we do it.

           So here is the invitation to this month’s spiritual practice:

           Make a list of all the people and creatures you have loved, all the people and creatures who have made a difference in your life. Living or dead, these are beloveds who dwell in the spaces of our memory.

           Just jot down their names, or a brief description when you don’t know their names. Sometimes a chance encounter with a stranger can make a big difference in our lives, too.

           This doesn’t have to be a perfect, or complete, or even a very long list. Just let each beloved appear in your memory’s eye and ear for a moment, and make a note of them.

           As you add each name, let a specific memory or quality rise up about that beloved. Let it be the first thing or two that pops into your mind. Jot that down, too.

          For example, my list begins like this:

  • My mother Jane: Generosity. Books.
  • Rastus, our first dog: Companion. Softness.
  • Ellen: Laughter. Trust.

           Keep coming back to your list. Notice the gifts that each beloved has given you. Notice how they are part of who you are now, especially when you re-member them—when you bring them again into your awareness, when you let the accumulation of these gifts build and build into the complex, strong, shining person you are now.

            You can weave this practice into your life first thing in the morning or last thing at night. You can share it with family and friends of all ages over a meal. You can ponder it on your way to work or school. You can add to it every day, every week this month. Notice what changes for you through this practice of mindful memory. Notice how connecting with your roots gives you an anchor strong enough to keep you solidly planted, even when outside events might shake us all.

             “What does it mean to be a people of Memory?” Awake, alive, strong, ready to create a “larger love, a more embracing hope, a deeper joy in this life we share.” Come, let us re-member ourselves.


With love for who we are and all we bring,


Rev. Nancy

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