The theme for this month is “holding history.” While our history does not have to determine our future, it does have a significant impact on who we are today. The joys and the sorrows, the achievements and the failures, the hopes and the disappointments of each stage in a life leaves its mark on the present.
Understanding our personal history is an essential part of spiritual growth and development. For many of us, we choose to remember only that which gave us pleasure, eschewing that which gave us pain. Revisiting past mistakes that we’ve made, past harms that were done to us, and our reactions to both, is painful. People who have courageously faced the past and rewritten their stories, however, tell us that the spiritual freedom they experience makes the pain and the effort well worth it. Author, Amy Greene, tells us that “It’s not forgetting that heals. It’s remembering.”
What we focus on matters. Healthy and holistic remembering embraces that which gave us pain, as well as that which gave us pleasure. It offers us an opportunity to consider alternate interpretations of events and to attribute new meaning and significance to our experiences. In some cases, we may find that our initial interpretation of an event was based on incomplete knowledge or a lack of compassion for others. In other cases, we may find new meaning in connecting the dots between what has gone before and where we are now — lessons learned, relationships discovered, and opportunities embraced. Most importantly, by intentionally choosing how we will hold our personal histories, we are empowered to let go of what is holding us back. English author and biomedical gerontologist, Aubrey De Graf, admonishes us “[not to] cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it.”
Aware that today becomes tomorrow’s past, poet Arthur Weir counsels us to be mindful of what we do today. In his poem, My Treasure, he explains that “The past is my treasure, friends . . . time but adds to my treasury, happy moments are never fled away from me. All one needs to be rich. . . is to live that his past shall be sweet in his thoughts, as a wild rose red, eternally.”
Rev. Lee Anne
P.S. Living into the themes for October (Cultivating Relationship) and November (Holding History), I am sharing with you a variation of the ministry resume I provided to the search committee. You can download it here.