“I am sitting here wanting memories to teach me,

to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.

Since you have gone and left me, there’s been so little beauty,

 but I know I saw it clearly through your eyes.

I thought that you were gone, but now I know that you are with me.

You are the voice that whispers all I need to know.”

Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell of “Sweet Honey in the Rock”

Lately, I’ve really missed my mother. I miss her daily, but lately she’s been on my mind more than usual. My mind has been flooded with images and memories of the tall, cafe au lait colored, curly haired woman from West Baltimore who breathed her last in June of 2008. I was 15. She was 36. I haven’t been the same since.

We Got Nothing But Time:

Most of us have had nothing but time on our hands; a worldwide pandemic and shut-down will do that to you. In this time where everything around me has been eerily silent (even my obnoxious neighbors), I’ve been thinking about my mother. I’ve been considering her laugh and the way she’d throw her head back as her hazel eyes squinted and cheeks reddened. I’ve replayed lessons learned at her side in the kitchen; our playground. I’ve caught myself searching my mind for the sound of her voice. Distant, it still echoes in the deepest corners of my psyche. My mother is home. Even nearly twelve years absent, she’s home. She’s where I go when life just doesn’t make sense.

With all the news of death recently, it’s no wonder I’ve gone to this familiar place. Death has a way of bringing sobriety to the intoxication of daily life. Many of us get hooked on deadlines and quotas, drunk with power and position, high on sex and popularity; then Death sings his sweet melody. He lures a loved one into his embrace and we’re left with memories. But, memories are good. They’re the only thing we can ever truly hold on to. When the last breath is exhaled and the body is removed from view, memories are where we find comfort and a forgotten smile.

But God:

Now, as much as I remember the warmth of my mother’s embrace and the confidence of her stride, I also remember my Father. No, not the Georgia-born military man with the salt-and-pepper hair; I’m speaking of my Heavenly Father. I remember the blessings and love shown to me from above.

“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)

Love came in the form of friends that became family, pastors who became parents, and peace that has kept me through bouts of depression and longing. I’ve been wanting memories to teach me things only God can. Memories can be beautiful; helpful even. But, joy is not found in the memories. True beauty isn’t found in the memories. Not even love is found there. These blessings aren’t found in memories and hours spent staring off into space. They’re found in the lives we live because we remember.

Never Forget:

Family, in all your remembering, please remember to LIVE! Travel to the places, write the stories, eat the foods, sing the songs, and love those who are still here. There’s nothing wrong with memories; just don’t get stuck there.

Challenge:

  • Make a list of all the things you remember saying you wanted to do but haven’t done for whatever reason.
  • Leave space between each item and, with a different color pen or pencil, write a plan to make this list a reality.

Shalom v’ahava (Peace and love).

C. P. Griffin

FB: @christopher.p.griffin

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