“Inspired to Make a Difference”
August 23, 2018
This won’t be a prophetic text of overpowering insight. It’s just a call for us to take time and remember and move on. Remember the days and dates that meant so much to you. A call to reflect on the hopefully happy, the sometimes not-so-happy, the challenging, the eye popping memories that we call carry within us.
It’s August 23: and on August 23, 1971 (“a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away”) I boarded the Leonardo da Vinci (sister ship of the Andrea D’Oria – by the by … oops) and headed off to spend the next four years as a theology student in Europe. And indeed my ideas about my country and its place (and responsibility) in the world, and my call to greater scholarship as a candidate for Holy orders changed me forever. So I remember this date with fondness.
Of course we should remember the birthdays of spouses, child(ren), grandchild(ren) or parents. We remember the day we took vows and promised before God to do all in our power to commit ourselves to the “other” in love until death.
I hold in memory the sadder days: the day, when I was still a child, that my youngest brother died and changed our family dynamic forever. I remember Sept. 11, 2001 and its legacy in terms of national identity, national fears, hope and hopelessness and being drawn back into the pseudo-religious tragic decisions that were the “Crusades” and their now 21st century aftermath so many centuries later.
Holding on to memories is not an excuse for never letting go of the past. It can be an invitation to better appreciate those who are our loved ones even as we hold in our hearts those who have passed on. I’m sure this parish will always remember its former days with fondness and longing even as we have to admit that those days and the culture that supported this parish decades ago is “…but the chasing of the wind.”.
Truly remembering can free us from the burden of carrying the burden of a false nostalgia – as if what was past is only what was good or only what we should or could be.
It’s August 23, and while I remember with fondness where I was and with whom on this date forty seven years ago, I can (hopefully) move on and not be stuck there – in memory. After all, if I were to tell the WHOLE, story, not only do I remember leaving New York Harbor, or the water canon salutes from the ferries, or the anticipation of four intensely demanding but wonderful years of study with classmates who were so much more gifted academically than I ever could have been, I must also remember how SICK I became later that evening as I was introduced to the reality known as sea sickness! Remember – hold the memories close – appreciate those you remember – but always move on!
— Fr. Joe