By Kay Bascom
Do you sometimes ponder over what it means to be a “human” being? An awesome realization hit me lately. Here’s why. While trying to make myself dispose of a huge build-up of mementos, I’ve been engaged in revisiting letters, photos, and documents which have accrued through the years. I keep asking myself, “Why have I always found it painful to throw away someone’s meaningful letters, cards, or photos?” Keeping them seems to have been my way of resisting human finitude. Remembered times and treasured people continue to reverberate in my mind and heart. Significantly, their joys are still available to me years later. Why? Because of the gift of memory.
Just think! Memory is one of the key indications that humanity has truly been created “in the image of God.” Plants and animals are marvelous creations too, but they don’t appear to be equipped to personally record histories or pass on thoughts beyond their own life spans.
Memory has the markings of eternity. It’s panoramic! It enables us to supersede time and space. By memory, our experiences can be sustained. Our collective memories unite the whole human race in our common yearnings and individual stories that we can amazingly share, just through black marks on white paper. Human beings can overhear the thoughts and histories of people long ago, just by symbols on walls, skin, papyrus, or paper! We take this capacity for granted, but it has miraculously led to contents that fill the letters, files, libraries, museums, and artifact collections all over the world. Humanity shares this common longing for life to be eternal, and conserving our memories is as close as we can get to infiniteness while on earth.
The Bible is basically God’s Book of Remembrance. Even today we can see Abraham’s near sacrifice on Mt. Moriah, hear David’s confessions to God, be awed by Joseph’s fascinating story, or ponder Daniel’s revelation of what to expect in the world’s future. We can read the history of God’s redemptive family’s pilgrimage, including their exact names, dates, and genealogies.
Our Creator knows each of us by name, and each of our complete stories. Nothing is lost. The most advanced computer stores only a slight fraction of the Mind that created us and everything in all creation in all its variety, intricacy, beauty, and remember-ability. God tells us that since humanity is created in His image – we are truly eternal. What is my response when this realization dawns upon me? I am humbled, informed, thankful, comforted, thrilled, and wanting to call attention to this key to meaning. Dear Lord, help our memory capacity to serve the purpose for which it is given!