The Power of Memory
The November issue of Smithsonian carries an article about two scientists who added a false frightening memory to a rat’s brain. The rat then reacted with fear although it was in a safe box. Having located the source of our memories promises to yield discoveries that will help with Alzheimer’s and PTSD. Imagine if memories of horrible events could be obliterated! I don’t think I would risk tampering with my memories. They can be a blessing or a curse. Sure, some are painful, but they all contribute to making me who I am today. Replaying experiences in our minds evokes the same emotions that they originally did. Positive memories make us feel good all over again. Elderly people derive much pleasure in recalling the past and telling someone about it. At reunions we enjoy comparing memories and being reminded of things forgotten in the mists of time. A trip down memory lane can make us grateful for the blessings we’ve received and the people who have played a part in our lives. Sometimes with hindsight, new realizations occur.
There is even a form of prayer called praying with memories. You imagine the situation and relive it, this time with Jesus there with you. You speak to him about what is happening. Memory is an integral part of our faith. The Bible is a compilation of memories. The Israelites recorded their dealings with the one God, and first-century Christians wrote down what they remembered about Jesus and the early Church. We carry out our Eucharistic celebration because Jesus said, “Do this in memory of me.” During the Mass we recall his life and the mystery of his death and rising. We remember the saints and our deceased loved one.
During this season of autumn as colorful leaves drift to the ground you might sit quietly for a time and recapture some highlights from your life. We take pictures to help us remember events. They jog our memories. Browse through a photo album. Memory is a beautiful gift, but with time it fades. Let’s make the most of it while we can.
What is a favorite memory of yours?
yes! Christian cognitive therapy, Holy Spirit style
My favorite memories are memories of the smiles on the faces of my loved ones when we really connected at the deepest spiritual level. Sometimes these smiles, in full flower, did not appear until these loved ones were near death. Though that is, in many ways, a sad time, it can also be a time of great beauty and grace. The dying have many gifts to give those of us who must toil on for a time – long or short – and I believe we need to learn how to best receive those gifts and cherish them even if through tears.
Beautiful thoughts, Gabrielle! Thank you.