Sunday, November 17, 2013

Why 'Unforgotten Grace'? (1)


What's your very first memory?

Mine is of a trio of Vietnam-era fighter planes flying low over my family's backyard in Charlotte when I was very young. I still remember how loud they were, how the ground shook.

I remember a kindly neighbor across the street who used to bake these delectable chocolate chip cookies and pack them tight in a metal coffee can. To heft a metal Sanka can loaded with chewy chocolate goodness was bliss.

I remember the perfume of the first girl I ever danced with, the howl of the wind when I walked across the swinging bridge at Grandfather Mountain, NC as a terrified pre-adolescent, the musty smell of the lawyer's office the day my first marriage ended in divorce.

I also remember smelling each of my children in their first minutes of life (you know, that completely unique scent of newborn baby), seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, the very first glimpse of the ocean from the road running parallel to the shoreline on every beach trip as a kid, the smell of the freshly cut grass outside the church building where Miranda and I got married on a warm May day when there was all at once great joy and the stabbing pain of one of our family lost and falling apart many miles away.

All memories carry a sensory imprint of some kind. We see, smell, feel, taste our memories.

My favorite writer is Frederick Buechner (get used to reading about him here, reader). One of his dominant themes is memory. He remembers and causes us to remember the suit his father put on before going out to the garage to end his life, the precise routine of his mother as she applied her makeup of a morning, the sound of his own halting and frightened voice as he tried to talk his teenage daughter out of an eating disorder. He writes:

"It is through memory that we are able to reclaim much of our lives that we have long since written off by finding that in everything that has happened over the years God was offering us new possibilities of life and healing..."

How about you? What memory, charged with hope or tinged with regret, do you need to own and savor? Where do you need to believe that there are new possibilities, the chance of life, the hope of healing?

There is so much about my own life I want to leave Unforgotten, much of it in the distant past and some of it in the very recent past.

Part of that is the way I have experienced Grace.....

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