Sunday, April 03, 2011
Sunday Afternoon Tea
I love reading the Old Testament and the Hebraic need to Remember... in altars built, festivals celebrated, names given to children, special food, and the telling of the Story of the Coming Redemption over and over and over. They understood the importance of Tradition, which in its' proper place acts as an anchor to Memory.
Memories... I sat on a quite hard park bench, watching Stephanie play with full abandonment. I don't recall how old she was at the time... five... six... seven... young enough to enjoy the park but old enough to be good company for her mother.
Earlier we had walked the boardwalk where the big boats were docked after a breakfast of croissants and coffee and milk (we almost always stopped for croissants with strawberry cream cheese or chocolate filling when we visited that favorite of towns). All these years later, I can still feel those moments on that particular day... most likely because I was definitely "in the zone" taking mental Polaroid pictures so I would always remember.
One of the side affects of losing a parent in childhood is the deep understanding it gives you early that life can be fleeting. One either develops a fearful attitude or the habit of taking the time to embrace the moment... in my case for many years it was both... that particular day was just so beautiful, I knew I'd want to remember it for a lifetime.
When we look for beauty in the ordinary things of life... walks in the park, breakfast "out", gardens, cooking together, stories read, beloved animals found amusing, joys celebrated, disappointments shared, ... then each day is an opportunity for the making of a memory.
If we think of only special events, and holidays, and vacations, etc. then we are looking for memories only days within months each year and tend to put too much pressure on "special" days.
Like that day so long ago with Stephanie in the park, I have vivid memories of times spent with family and friends... from hiking nature trails with Christopher... to watching Stephanie and hubby play tennis together... to the frigid spring vacation the four of us took to downtown Chicago (a cold wind whipping off the Lake!) and taking the wrong train back to the hotel but meeting the most fascinating people... to going to the Feast of the Hunter's Moon with our best friends visiting from Iowa... to Stephanie's wedding to the "world's best son-in-law" in the charming country chapel in the small town where I grew up.
So many memories of meals through the years... dinners by the light of candles when we were but three (when Christopher was little, he blew them out so the tradition ended)... to the Thanksgiving dinner an almost-twelve-year old Stephanie made for her dad when I was in the hospital with the newborn Christopher... to the delicious meals she served to us when we visited last autumn.
Memories of my mother and father and family and dear friends and towns we lived in and churches we attended and people we met and favorite restaurants and coffee shops and antique stores and book shops and flea markets and the best place for a good cheeseburger.
Memories of books read together and films watched as a family and the shared vocabulary of people who live together for years upon years upon years. Those sentences said aloud which make us laugh and no one else knows what in the world we are talking about. The anniversary dates of good times and bad times and in between. Memories of Sasha and Storm that bring laughter and tears.
Late night chats with my kids about life and God and faith and failure and everything in between. Good times... bad times... funny times... sad times... all centered around the One who Created. Memories to be recorded at times with words and others with pictures.
Are any of my memories perfect? Well... looking through the lens of time they tend to be but if I really, really stop to remember surrounding circumstances... there were very few perfect days (much less months or years). Some memories must be "let go" when they settle once more in my head... bringing forgiveness and alleviating pain.
There must be someone in the family who can make a party on a rainy day and a feast in the midst of famine. Someone who understands hot soup in cold weather, slices of cold watermelon in a heatwave, or that warm cookies with tea just about anytime warms the soul as well as body. Someone to snap a picture or write a letter or perhaps to keep a journal or create a scrapbook.
Someone to build the altar of remembrance, always leading those they love back to the One who loves them. Someone who understands how fleeting life can be and how quickly it passes and that we must slow down and really, really look... and provide memories... and to remember... as one generation passes to another. Always understanding there may never be a perfect day but we can make perfect memories.