This past weekend my sons and I joined our Boy Scout troop on a trip to our local federal cemetery to install flags at the graves of all the veterans. The ceremony surrounding our effort was short but sober honoring the sacrifice of the men and women who in many cases gave their lives for us.
It was an important event for my boys, if nothing else than to remind them that Memorial Day is not merely the unofficial start to summer and the occasion for outdoor grilling, but an important part of whom they are and will become.
It is a time of memory, a memory of those gone before whether they are military dead or departed family. These people shaped our lives, and to forget is to cut off their person from our own lives.
Memory is a significant part of humanity and has the ability to change us as we participate in something bigger than ourselves. Here are four ways memory impact our daily life.
1. Memory is an essential component of the image of God in our lives. Humans are unique in that throughout time we memorialize events and people. We set up structures and monuments and create rituals and events to perpetuate what is valuable beyond one generation.
2. Memory allows us to make present past events. An act of memory does not make past reality again, or even bring it to our minds in a historical sense, but it imparts the significance and meaning the past has for our lives. Through this memorial we re-enter the past not playing the role of journalist, but experiencing the importance of the past for our present.
Throughout Scripture, men initiated memorials and God Himself commanded them as signposts of the work of God’s hand and light for future action.
3. Our memory is a shadow of the eternal memory of God. Our existence and that of the whole world is held by the memory of God. We only live because He holds us in His eternal memory.
4. Memory lets us enter into communion with those gone before us. The love we hold for the living does not stop when they depart, and when we recall their lives in our hearts we commune with their lives. And as our mind’s eye gazes upon their time here on earth, we can be changed into the goodness they imparted to us.
Holidays such as Memorial Day are not antiquated relics but provide us the ability to perpetuate what we value and to transform us into better men.
What role does memory play in your life?