Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gratitude Shaped Memories

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.  ~From the television show The Wonder Years


The show, Wonder Years, was based on reliving memories, of those things that were loved by a generation.

Memories from the musical CATS is more about recognizing that I can learn from my past and that I can leave the past behind me as a new day has begins.


There are some spiritual teachers who would remind me that I don't live in the past and if I continue looking back, then I will miss what is happening in this moment.  I know this is true and I also know, I'm not there yet on my spiritual walk. : ) I do look back for varying reasons.  

Macrina begins an entry in A Tree Full of Angels on page 117 with an insight from a note written by a friend: "I live a lot on a distance I think friendships hibernate, I don't think they die." ~ Nicholas

In response, Macrina shares with Nicholas that his letter has given her the opportunity to pray with her own memories. She refers to them as "crumbs" (remember those crumbs from the first chapters?).
"It was nourishment that I would never have dreamed possible. It is such a grace to be able to reflect prayerfully on one's past experiences....It is not easy to be truly present to each life event while it is happening.That's why it is so valuable to go back to the memory when we are a bit wiser and more detached from the event. We can read between the lines and the words of the experience better after we have distanced ourselves from it. We can be more objective and more fair, and even more present....It occurred to me in prayer today what a tremendous gift it is to give myself this special blessing of prayer with my memories. God came today in my mailbox and reminded me that friendships do not die. They simply wait awhile. They quietly remember. In the absence of the beloved they age like good wine." (Macrina Wiederkehr, A Tree Full of Angels, p 117-118)
I so like that Macrina admits to not being fully present "at the time" and it is in hindsight that she sees the blessing of those moments!

Still, while I appreciate her wonderful thoughts about memories, I also appreciate the wisdom of Edward de Bono who said, "A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely happen."

I have to admit to a big smile as I consider de Bono's wisdom.

I love this image! I think I may
use it on my desktop as a reminder.
I have journaled a lot about the practice of gratitude. I have journaled only a little of the questions I hold about discovering/acknowledging gratitude within the darkness...within the messiness of life; because like it or is messy!!! 

I may be a much loved Child of God, but that does not shield me from walking through dark valleys.

I think that by its very nature, life is full of good memories and not so good memories, one right after another, and I am fairly certain I am in the majority as one who is unable to be fully present "in the moment" when and as these memories occur.  For good or for bad, I do look back and I sometimes wonder...

When I was five years old and being thrown thru the windshield of a car, and then all those years of more surgeries, feeling like I was some kind of the time, I did not "know" God's presence within those moments. If I had thought about God at all, I would have wondered where in the world he was! If I had been old enough and someone would have talked of trusting God? I don't know how receptive I would have been to that message.

Later through the ups and downs of adolescence (with an already bruised ego), I was beginning to have wonderful God experiences, but I was also learning I had to be responsible for keeping myself safe.

I could go on, but as difficult were some of my experiences, I know most of us have walked through those dark valleys at a young age, not understanding and beginning to look for ways to keep our hearts safe. Yet, if I look back on those times, from a place of greater maturity, I could fill a journal with gratitudes I did not know at the time.


Without being able to discover the gratitude, when I look back on my life memories I think one of my lessons would be that my hopes don't always add up. With this insight, I believe my question would be: how or why would I ever want to count on the one called, Jesus?

Gratitudes stack up either tall or wide!
As I have thought about this, I have begun to wonder if this is where learning to express gratitude, to watch for grateful moments, and then to record that gratitude...I think this is where it happens.  Because, honestly? I don't think our life hopes add up for most of us.  That is reality.  However, I do believe my/our gratitudes add up one on top of another.  When I watch for and then record my gratitudes I recognize "who" can be counted on thru the messiness of life. When I look back on my memories, like Macrina, I can be more objective and even "more present" and witness the Love that was present in some of my darkest times.

This weekend, memories of my mother-in-law will be shared just as new memories are being created. As we look back, I pray we discover the blessings within those moments, that we most likely missed when they occurred, and to then be grateful.  As we gather, I pray we are aware of the blessings occurring in the moment, because when I live from an attitude of gratefulness, I am beginning to believe that is my first step of  living with less fear....

But, that is fodder for another post. : )

Many Blessings ~ Sandi


  1. What a wonderful, insightfull post......I love reliving memories....can't help but do this with my mom and dad who are no longer living. I have much "gratitude" for my raising and having many precious memories to relive!!

  2. Awesome!
    Thanks for sharing, Sandi! You make my day!