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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh……a time to keep and a time to throw away.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

Memory: A piece of information, such as the mental image of an experience, that is stored in the memory. Memory involves encoding, storing, retaining and subsequently recalling information and past experiences. Memories are strange critters. Helpful. Funny. Terrifying. Comforting. Sad. Sometimes repressed. Joyful. Troubling. Shadowy. Persistent or difficult to recall. Maybe totally different from the memory of someone who experienced the same experience as you.

The longer you live the more memories you have. I live in a Senior Residential Community. This place abounds in memories. One of the residents I know lives in her memories, of a childhood in a large blended family, that give her great pleasure. One of her stories also gives me great pleasure. She tells of dinner time on the farm. When they had dessert, her brothers would try to buy hers for a nickel. “You cheapskate” she’d say and hold out for a better offer. Usually fifteen cents would do. Then laughing heartily, she says: “We had such fun!”

I came across the item in the photo unexpectedly. It is a bottle cap from a milk bottle that came to my home when I was a kid, about 70 years ago. One friend who is old enough to know what it is had no idea. Another immediately went back to the front porch on his childhood home. “Raw” milk came directly from the dairy without any processing. The quart bottles were shaped more like the traditional beer bottle, wide on the bottom with a narrow neck. The milk separated so that the neck of the bottle would be full of heavy cream. A spoonful in coffee was a treat. Or during the second world war when butter was rationed or unavailable the cream could be whipped into butter. When it was very cold and the contents froze, the cream would rise up out of the bottle with the cap perched on the top. Needless to say, there is much more that I could tell you.

Often memories that haven’t been around for a long while are triggered unexpectedly. For me, years after the loss of my brother, something brought back a surprising flood of grief. Sometimes old insecurities that need to be resolved accost me or a reunion will rekindle long forgotten challenges. Memories are vital to our being who we are. We now have begun to understand that stressful memories may cause great suffering and need healing.

When dealing with painful memories it may help to return to Ecclesiastes 3:15 where we are told: “What now is has already been; what is to be already is; and God restores what would otherwise be displaced.” The accompanying footnote suggests that: God restores probably means that no part of creation is to drop out of existence. If so, then I want not only seek healing for those memories that need healing, I want especially to cherish the ones of those who are gone and are on the other side of the veil.

Ann Dolbier is a friend and supporter of Celtic Way.

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