Memory of the heart
“Gratitude is the memory of the heart; therefore forget not to say often, I have all I ever enjoyed.” — Lydia Child
It’s not good to live in the past or long for bygone times. Ecclesiastes 7:10 reminds us “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” Still, as one grows older, and beloved friends and family members face illness or death, it can be all too easy to feel deep sorrow when we are reminded of how things once were.
Child gives us one secret of how to avoid this difficulty. If we are mindful of our blessings in the present, and enjoy life to the fullest, we will never really lose what we once had. All the beauty and humor and fun and joy that have gone before are now an abiding part of us, and will remain with us to fill our hearts with gratitude as our days continue to bring new reasons to rejoice.
When I was a teenager I once told Mama and Daddy that I would never lose them, because I would always know what they would be saying if they were still here. I felt certain I would be able to hear their voices in my mind and know the kinds of wisdom they used to share with me, so they would never really be gone. Daddy replied that everybody gets a little clue of eternity in this life, and he thought that particular idea must be my personal glimpse into infinity, and he hoped I would hang onto it.
Though I still believe the things I said so glibly in my youth, it turns out to be harder than I imagined to hold that confidence during sad or scary times. When change comes, whether through loss or retirement or other life transitions, we are never completely ready for it. There will always be at least a little sadness and fear for most of us when it’s time to move into uncharted territory. But gratitude is the surest protection I have found when I feel lost and alone in the face of a strange new situation.
If you should find yourself feeling a bit sad when you hear a song that reminds you of a loved one, or see a photo of your young family having fun on some long-ago vacation, or come across a special gift once given to you by someone you wish you could somehow see just one more time, remember that what you have cherished is yours forever. I wish you an enduring awareness that you still have all you ever enjoyed, a secure bank of memories stored deep in your heart.
To all my readers, and especially those who share with me via the comments section, I send my sincere apologies for not being able to answer comments lately. Because these posts are written in advance, the posts sometimes continue even when I am not available to respond immediately. If you have followed this blog for very long, you can guess why I’m not available right now. Many of you are in touch with me by email. For those who want personal updates, please send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will include you on the personal updates I send, though these too have been rare lately. Please know that I do read and cherish your comments, emails, cards and other expressions of concern. I feel and deeply appreciate your caring support now more than ever. You are in my heart always. I will be back as soon as I can and will answer each and every comment when time allows.