Memory is a wonderful tool. Helps me navigate life. When I use it well, I get things done on time, don’t miss important appointments, and celebrate when I intend to. Yes…it sometimes fails me, and I resort to post-it notes and strings around my fingers as dubiously effective aids.
For me, two important aspects of memory can be elusive.
I use memory in everyday ways, but I also choose it, or rather, I choose what memories to dwell on. Memories seep up from my subconscious and I get to choose whether I spend time with them, or whether I turn away from them. Consciously, I select memories to savor. The memories that I choose to dwell on have impact. Experiences similar to them proliferate in my life. It is my intention to spend most of my time with memories that excite me, that nurture me and that lift me up. Diligence required.
And then there is what I don’t remember. It is hard to imagine how greatly this may affect me. It takes some exploring to uncover these memories. But here’s what I’ve discovered about me. Nothing about me merits shame. I am always doing the best that I can, given what I have to work with. My mistakes are guardrails to get me back on track. I am a perfect creation, divine, in the process of unfoldment. All is possible for me.
Memory…I use it, I choose it, I unveil it.
I’ve been musing on the egg lately. Maybe it’s my desire for spring to unfold that points me to the egg. Perhaps it’s because Easter approaches. Maybe it’s the memory of my grandfather’s chicken farm; in that memory, I approach the nest, little boy-scared, wanting to gather the eggs, afraid of a peck on my hand as I reach under the hen for the prize.
I’ve always liked eating eggs. They seem like such a complete food. Cracking them as they go in the frying pan is fun if sometimes messy. The sunny yolk is uplifting.
But seriously…eggs have significance for me. That they are laid is a miracle of life. When fertile, another miracle proceeds…one requiring nurture, and when the time is full, the shell is cracked open by new life insisting on being in the world.
There is a simple lesson for me in that. Seeding precedes growth. Growth needs nurturing. Life must break out when the time is right. Reminds me of me. I didn’t have a role in my genesis. I am eternally grateful for my nurturing, by so many for so long. Now it’s time to break out. So, break out, Neal, break out! It’s time to know the world; time to be known by the world.
I don’t like the word humble. Makes me think of bowing and scraping or being whittled away to a mere shadow of myself. Whether through belittling self-talk, or the careless speech of others, being humbled depreciates me; I see myself less and less and less. But I think I am using the word humble wrongly. I am throwing it together with humiliate. Being made small seems hopeless, so I have run from walking humbly.
Today I reclaim the word humble; it is valuable to me. To be humble is to respect, not think of myself more highly than my brother nor to think of myself more lowly than him either. It is not to value myself more than others, nor to value them more than myself.
Walking humbly and standing tall do not contradict each other. We are all of equal value. I defer to my sister out of love, not diminishing myself. Both of us express divinity in this world and neither is of higher rank. My kindness and my greatness do not exclude each other.
I do walk in humility with the divine, the great ‘All That Is.’ The divine nature expressed in me, though not different than Spirit, is a small and unique measure of that nature, particular to me. In that sense, I walk with profound respect with the unlimited ‘All That Is.’ Equally, I stand tall, an identical extension of the nature and the goodness of The Divine.
I paraphrase the words of the Shaker hymn:
'Tis a gift to be humble, 'tis a gift to be free…
When true humility is gained,
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed;
to stand, turn, will be our delight.
Till by standing, turning we come round right.
A softer place to rest
I wake, bones complaining,
I find myself wishing for
A softer place to rest.
I lament my stone pillow,
My very thin mattress
With barely a blanket to cover.
I was tired, I remember
From many miles traveled,
No respite in sight nor in mind.
I was pushed to the limit
Of fragile resources without
A kind word to encourage.
I did struggle on by
Sheer force of my will,
Hoping my strength would suffice.
I toiled and I sweated,
I imagined, I dreamed of
A simple soft place to rest.
Then…I knew I was dreaming
Of a sad self-made journey to
A softer place to rest.
My couch, soft or not
Had felt like bare floor,
My comforts but few, insufficient.
Perhaps it was only my thought that
Needed and hopelessly craved
For comfort already around me.
If so, I would have to stop dreaming
Before I’d have some hope of finding
A softer place to rest.
I woke from the dream,
Turned my back to that story
Wishing one new to replace it.
Wishing turned serious
It morphed into hoping for
The softness and sweetness I craved.
From hope burst desire
With passionate intensity
Followed by a slight tinge of joy.
From trust grew belief with
Opportunity to nurture
The hope that began with slim promise.
With belief a new story
Began to be written,
A story of hope and of comfort.
Believing, I suddenly saw it,
A wondrously challenging journey,
Replete with great joys but no sorrows.
What before had been struggles,
Disappointment, no rest
Became a glorious adventure.
At the end of the day
With a contented sigh I relaxed.
I chose a new story and
With it I found
A brighter, a lighter, a promising future,
And a very soft place to rest.
Rev. Neal Worthington is the Minister at Unity of Payson.
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