Remember — Participating in Presence

Image result for embrace public domain
Three people, embracing. Public domain image. iStockphoto.com

Yesterday, I shared a piece about eucharist practices and the ancient Greek word often translated as ‘remember.’ This is not merely about mentally recalling an event of the past. In this framework, it’s about making it present in our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

In that same spirit, I’d like to share a guided meditation from my friend and colleague Ken Wilson at Blue Ocean Faith, a congregation in Ann Arbor. How can we pause to remember each other during this time of a pandemic, and in a deep sense, feel the connection and presence of one another? How do we participate in what we remember?

I was very moved by this recording this week. It’s 12 minutes long, and I recommend listening.

Within the recording, Ken Wilson says,

“But first let’s remember how normal it is to feel another person’s presence even when we may not see them or hear them. A young child will feel calmed by the presence of a parent or other loving caretaker in the room with them—even if the person is temporarily out of sight—as long as they are in mind and thought to be present, the child feels secure. More mysteriously, perhaps we have all had moments of feeling someone’s presence in a room before we consciously knew they were there. And, of course, it’s a very real presence that occurs when we call someone to mind, when we remember them. After all, everything that we experience, in a sense, takes place in our minds. In both practices, we activate our memory to be aware of the presence of loved ones, and memory includes the capacity we call imagination, which is also, by the way, a key component of faith, since faith is the assurance of things hoped for.

“For each practice, you can focus on the beloved others in the way that is most helpful for you. Sometimes calling their name to mind, invokes a sense of their presence. Or calling to mind a visual image of the loved one. Or any other remembered physical sense of the person: touch, smell, a particular facial expression, a laugh. However, it may be that you most readily call someone to mind, focus your attention, in particular on the positive feelings connected to the loved one. It’s not so important to have a vivid memory as to call notice and savor any positive feelings, however subtle they may be—warmth, security, comfort, delight, admiration, and so on—to and to rest your focus on those feelings.

“In Hebrew Bible, there is no such thing as ‘mere memory.’ Instead, memory is understood as a re-participation in the event remembered.”

Here’s the recording.

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