By Steven Norris
The smell of homemade buttermilk biscuits transported me across space and time to summer in my Mamaw’s kitchen. There, mornings regularly consisted of a hot biscuit smothered with homemade pear preserves made from the week’s harvest. That is one my most favorite memories of time spent with Mamaw.
What happens, though, when the memories start to fade? What happens when I cannot remember the sound of her voice or the feeling of holding her hand as we walk through the orchards on the old farm? Where can I carve out spaces of sacred remembrance to combat the forgetfulness that creeps in through daily busy-ness?
This Sunday, our church will observe All Saints’ Day. Technically, the day of holy remembering falls on November 1, but churches around the world will take time to give thanks for those who have gone before us. We will speak their names aloud in worship, see their faces in pictures, and honor the legacies that are left behind. We will light candles, a symbol of the lasting impact that continues to give warmth and light, though it is elusive and fleeting; difficult to control and easily extinguished.
In a beautiful essay entitled, “A Room Called Remember,” Frederick Buechner reflects on the nature of memory and its power to shape us. Using David’s song in 1 Chronicles 16 as a starting place, Buechner writes,
“‘Remember the wonderful works that he has done,’ goes David’s song — remember what he has done in the lives of each of us; and beyond that remember what he has done in the life of the world; remember above all what he has done in Christ — remember those moments in our own lives when with only the dullest understanding but with the sharpest longing we have glimpsed that Christ’s kind of life is the only life that matters and that all other kinds of life are riddled with death; remember these moments in our lives when Christ came to us in countless disguises through people who one way or another strengthened us, comforted us, healed us, judged us, by the power of Christ alive within them.”
In these holy moments, we pause to remember how homemade biscuits, copiously infused with love and affection, are a reflection of Christ’s sacrificial love, offered through the simplest acts of service. Instinctively, we may even feel the need to slip the shoes from our feet, recognizing the ordinary tile of the kitchen floor as sacred ground.
Buechner continues, “All that is the past. All that is what there is to remember. And because that is the past, because we remember, we have this high and holy hope: that what he has done, he will continue to do, that what he has begun in us and our world, he will in unimaginable ways bring to fullness and fruition.”
May our remembering propel us forward to embrace an unknown future — one shaped and prepared by the investment of those who have gone before us. May we remember that God is doing something bigger than we can perceive, weaving past and present into a tapestry of faithfulness, purpose, and eternal significance.