By foot, Jerusalem is not the easiest city to negotiate. The streets wind around; they descend and then ascend the hills of Yerushala’im. They change names. Keren Hayesod becomes King George Street, Sderot Hayim Hazaz becomes Sderot Hanasi Ben Zvi. Add to all of that, the Hebrew, Arabic, and English transliteration spellings on the street signs and you find yourself out on a half a day trek rather than a quick trip to the local shuk for a bunch of bananas. Memory, therefore, becomes a prime indicator of your whereabouts. I rely on mine often - turn left at the pharmacy, go past the café with the red and black sign, look at the street sign that says Ussishkin and know that it really means Ibn Ezra Ussishkin and Ibn Ezra will run directly into Rehov Ramban. I’m home!
Christians observed All Souls Day this past week. We remember our friends and loved ones who have died very recently or perhaps forty years ago. The bells toll, we strike a pleasant chord and we light the eternal flame within our heart so that we can clearly see and hear our beloved once again. Our lives are blessed by their presence and their memory is a source of continual blessing for us. On this day memory becomes a balm in which we can hurt and heal, forgive and ask to be forgiven, laugh and cry.
Should we not recall our loved ones and set aside a day for remembrance? Why just a day? It honors our past, and more importantly it establishes a new foundation from which we can create, with God’s guidance, a new day. I believe that we could greatly benefit from a daily dose of remembrance. Knowing our past, finding the markers which guide us home, is indeed what God asks us to do. Remember the Sabbath day; keep it holy. Remember that I, the Lord God, brought you out of slavery into the land of freedom. Ahhh, yes, that’s where I’ve been, now I can move ahead.
And Jesus, during his final meal with the disciples, said to take bread and wine and to be in thanksgiving and love and to do it in remembrance of him. Every time Christians partake in the meal of remembrance and thanksgiving we do so because it redirects us back onto the path of God’s love.
This week I have lit the candle of remembrance for Loretta and Richard, my mother and father. Their souls are a continued blessing to me.