By Heritier Mesa, sx
I would never call myself a nostalgic fan of the late 1960’s music, nor did I experience the beauty of Nana Mouskouri’s songs in the pinnacle of her glory and fame. However, listening for the very first time on the radio to her version of “Try to remember” made me wonder how was life like in the northern hemisphere from September to December. Indeed, how melancholic can life be when the possibilities of summer are gone and the chill of winter is on the horizon? The skies turn grey, and many people turn inward, both physically and mentally. How challenging it is in the freezing cold winter to remember when grass was green and grain was yellow? Yet, this can be the only way to survive the lifeless season and savor the promise of hope for the spring to come.
Reading Exodus, the dialogue between God, Moses and the Israelites has always been challenging for many of us. How could the Israelites be so blinded by seemingly petty sufferings so not to remember the past blessings and the mighty hand of the one who freed them from Egypt and led them across the Red sea? And yet, we often put the blame on their capricious and moody character, naming them even the ‘incredulous people.’ Was it really due to an incredulity of some sort as we are prompt to believe?
A similarly striking scene can be read in Luke’s tale of the walk to Emmaus. How could the two disciples be so blinded by their sufferings and disappointments so as not to remember the teachings of Jesus and forget his promises of the resurrection or not even recognize him in due time? Let us push it even farther, how could the disciples of the cenacle possibly be paralyzed by fear and doubt when they had the promises of the risen Christ, when they had witnessed the resurrection of Christ with their eyes and touched him with their hands? And now, how could we in our darkest moments and night of faith lose the sight of any horizon of hope when we have experienced God’s love and grace in our lives?
“How odd, indeed, it is that God’s salvation is so seldom recognized”. And, as put by Richard Rohr, “how strange that what God is offering is so rarely experienced?”
As life passes us by, we meet different people and have various experiences. Both people and experiences do not leave us the same. Voluntarily or reluctantly, they affect us; they leave a mark on us, good or bad, and at times both. Strangely enough though, “it seems to be so much easier to remember the hurts, the failures, and the rejections. One almost wonders if we like pain.” Why is it that we tend to have such a selective view on some events and people? For Richard Rohr, this can be connected to our vulnerability towards suffering. We are indeed very much vulnerable to evil that is why we tend to remember more our past wounds and hurts than nice moments. Hence, we do not really need to fight against such apparently natural tendency. We rather have to learn to see. We need to have the eyes of God for this. “Until we have learned how to see, evil comes to us easily and holds us in it grasp.”
Just like deep in December it is nice to remember the fire of September that made one yellow, it is imperative to keep memory of God’s love and grace in our life. This should be a life-long mark that reminds us where we are coming from, and gives us a hint of where we are headed to. “Just as an artist must learn again what she is seeing in terms of edges, focus, perspective, colors and shadings, parts and whole, so the believer must go back to the beginning and start seeing anew. In order to see clearly the believer must learn how to “remember.’”
Learning to see means, bringing pieces back together again, just like a mosaic painter needs to take a step back so as to see the puzzle from a new and more globalizing perspective. This would definitely necessitate a shift on perspective and can be sometimes troublesome, and yet it is the price for savoring the spring and wonders to come. Perhaps the strong winds of winter, the suffering, the fear, the doubt and the storms of life will not be dissipated at once. But, our perspective and our whole being will ultimately be changed for the better.
When the freezing winter approaches, sometimes all that we need to do is an inward exercise that frees us from our past demons and enables our “Patronus Charm” to blossom and dissipate the darkness around us. Bringing always back the memory of God’s love and grace in our life is what helps us not only to live graciously the present but also turns us towards a glorious future in the promise of God. The voice of Nana Mouskouri could not make it any better…Try to remember and if you remember, then follow…