In our family, the past lives with us like another family member. Almost every day, the past is resurrected. And yet, we are a family that revels in the present. My husband and I have hearts somewhat worn down by hurts and loss, so when our gaze goes beyond the horizon of what is before us, we are understandably more reticent in our hopes. But our children, growing up and facing life’s curves and dips with their hearts firmly in ours, see no clouds beyond the repose of the sun.
The past comes alive each day when the kids awaken, and some are still young enough to want their morning kisses and cuddles. My husband and I have pet names for each, and while the older ones might look a tad askance when we use them, the younger ones sometimes refuse to answer to their given names, preferring their pet names. I think it’s like a security blanket for them. Or perhaps those funny little names comfort them that they are something special to us that they are not to others.
I believe my children have grown ‘watching movies’ of their childhood because of the constant airing that childhood narratives get in our home. Not a day goes by without someone purposefully steering the dinner conversation towards tender reminiscences of growing-up tickles and mischief.
Is it any wonder that our dinners can go on to close to two hours?
These precious conversations have become the soul of the family. As we chat and listen and sometimes, argue with one another, the past sits with us, like an unseen guest. He listens in earnest as my husband and I weave for our kids our sharings and teachings about present day issues, from the harbor of the days and lives gone by. Being very much people people, we are a storehouse of endless family anecdotes.
Indeed, we have rich earth to draw life lessons from.
The words from yesterday’s 1st reading is gentle entreaty for a preservation of these ways of ours ~
However, take care and be earnestly on your guard
not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen,
nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live,
but teach them to your children and to your children’s children. ~ Deuteronomy 4:9
Those verses tell us that the past must always be allowed its living. Not to haunt or torment and to take life away, but to burnish the life now and that which is to come.
For just as it has the capacity to bring death, the starlight of history and memories bear also the supreme grace to heal, to nurture, and to light the way ahead.