This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
One tragic moment can turn life around, in ways so painfully new;
But in our sorrow, in a thousand ways, we will remember you…
Excerpt from Never Forget
I work in the air-medical transport community and over the forty-plus years of its existence, our industry has lost more than 300 of its associates in the line of duty. An air-medical accident – most commonly a helicopter crash – usually occurs because of poor decision-making on the part of one or more people. Of course, we all make poor decisions, but some decisions have more severe and irreversible consequences than others. In most public-service endeavors – EMS, fire, law enforcement, military – losing a comrade in the line of duty creates sudden, long-lasting, and violent shock-waves that reverberate far beyond the family and friends of the ones lost.
Remembering is important. Near the end of the last meal with his disciples, Jesus blessed and broke bread, poured wine, and told his closest companions to remember him every time they ate and drank. This request was not made out of a narcissistic fear of being forgotten. Rather, the request was made out of a knowledge that his friends – and us today – would need to remember, not for his sake but for ours. Whenever we form a close bond with another – through marriage, friendship, or profession – we become a part of a family that is larger than our single existence. When we lose a person in that family, we often need to re-member, to reestablish and celebrate that bond, and to have that person in our presence again, if only in our memory.
Some are reluctant to dwell on memories of loved ones because they find it too painful. In reality, it may be more painful not to remember. In his book The Seven Storey Mountain, Thomas Merton writes, “The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you, in proportion to your fear of being hurt.” Cherished memories may hurt by reminding us of what we have lost, but repressing those memories will hurt more.
Keeping the memory of a loved one alive helps our healing process. Indeed, when someone close to us passes, remembering is a primary way to reconnect with them. We cherish items they valued; we return to the scene of the accident; we linger over their pictures. By remembering, we bring a past reality to the present again. While the memory is not as tangible as the reality was, it often allows for a renewing of our focus on today and tomorrow. We remember the sacrifice and the love of others who valued us enough to put their lives on the line for us. We remember our spouse, our friend, our co-worker, our Savior; and the memory of that bond strengthens us today. When we remember, we honor our loved ones and keep their impact upon us alive.
Come home to church this Sunday. Re-member into the family of God.
My song, Never Forget, can be heard at my website, www.ContemplatingGrace.Com.