I am sure my daughters are as tired of my stories as I was of my grandfather’s. Now that I am older, I wish I had asked for more than I heard when grandfather was remembering. In hindsight, the stories were a unique window into an era that has passed into history. The India of his time came with wild animals, rough paths passing as roads, and life-threatening adventure. One could take nothing for granted. Help was, at best, days away. Everything was present, just waiting for those with the willingness and courage to face the unknown.
Memories are funny things. Rarely do the bad ones stay with us, at least not in the same way we first recorded. When I think of the stories, I see my grandfather adventurous, not conservative and reserved. As I play back the details, risking one’s life was far more normal than exceptional. The details, especially between the lines, told a very different story than the externals of my childhood.
I remember the past with shades of fondness, longing, and appreciation. Yes, things could have been better. Yes, there are things I would change in hindsight. Yes, I wish I knew then what I know now. While it is easy to second-guess myself, I remember much with thankfulness and love. At the core of each memory are the relationships I find myself treasuring today.
I find myself, in the London gray of an unusual Southern California day, taking the advice of others. “Remember these things, O Jacob. Take it seriously, Israel, that you're my servant. I made you, shaped you: You're my servant. O Israel, I'll never forget you.” (Isaiah 44.21)
I hope I never lose the spirit of those that came before me. You and I do not need to forget, it can be a springboard for even greater adventures in the future. Everything is here, waiting for us to engage proactively. God, community, compassion, hope, and above all love; all keys to memories found in the present. Today is an opportunity to create something fresh, new, and memorable.
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