If I tried to recount all that life has entailed in the past year, I would find a common theme throughout. There is a theme of the power of memory. More than this, as much as memories can be somewhat painful, they are nothing short of a gift.
Life is a compilation of memories. It seems to be these very memories that move us forward. Perhaps they are somewhat of the symphonic sounds interplaying with time itself.
Some memories stay with us, strong and vibrant. Others fade and sometimes seemingly disappear. You can learn a lot about a person by the memories that are vivid and the ones that have faded away.
I have collected memories over the course of this past year. The painful ones, including the loss of friendship and the death of a student, along with all the memories that go with each of these, are reminders that life is a gift but this world is not enough. They serve to show that we are incapable of loving the way another needs to be loved, but, because of grace, we can allow God to love others through us, if even for a season.
The joyful memories include being engulfed in the beauty of creation, times when the family is piled into the living room, heartfelt voices singing out, the kindness of students, and long conversations with dear friends. Each of these reminds me that we are created for community and that joy is often a result of knowing sorrow.
Memories are threaded through tears cried because we feel overwhelmed and incapable. They are the testimony of His faithfulness when we doubt it and when we feel it most present in our lives. They are proof of battles that, in His strength, we have overcome, and reminders that when we fail again, we are neither desolate nor abandoned.
In the stillness of this afternoon, I am overwhelmed by joy and sorrow that flows in and out of my life. I am overwhelmed by the memories. Most of all, I am thankful for the memories. All of them. They go with me into this new year. They add to the collection of new memories that will be made.