Monday, March 30, 2015

Eternal Memory

For the wise, like the fool, will not be long remembered; the days have already come when both have been forgotten. Ecclesiastes 2:16

The Twilight craze has passed and so has the fervor for Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.

I can see you blink and say, "Huh?"

Not too many years ago in the eternal perspective, loyal fans of this latter serial waited with as much anticipation for the next installment as Edward/Jacob devotees yearned for the next movie. Victorians gathered at harbors to meet English ships for one reason, and it wasn't greeting family and friends. They just had to know: "Is Little Nell dead???"

Most of us will never be as famous as either Stephanie Meyers of Charles Dickens, and the memory of their accomplishments will fade, has faded, and is fading from the forefront of most people's consciousness. Think of all the schools that are named for esteemed educators and then ask schoolchildren (and their parents and teachers) to give a summary of that educator's life.

So what does that mean for the rest of us, who lead more ordinary lives between the here and then gone?

Two things happened to me on Saturday that inspired this post. One is a friend grappling with that question. The other is the former marketing director for the BryonySeries, who left a voice message for me while I was in a meeting.

Eight years ago I had interviewed her for a Herald-News story before and after she had brain surgery to remove a meningioma. The second interview was at her home, while she was recovering. Because this woman is creative and spiritual, I impulsively stopped at a religious goods store on the way to her house and purchased a lace banner for her, with the phrase: "Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10.

The story was published, and in 2010 I hired her for marketing until the budget for marketing was gone. End of story.

Until Saturday.

She still has that lace banner. That banner still inspires her. On that particular day, she was writing a euology for a relative's memorial service. She called to let me know that she was using this banner as the foundation of her eulogy, and that it still meant something to her eight years later.

In the Eastern Orthodox church, we conclude our memorial services with the phrase, Eternal Memory. 

I believe that as the sharp particulars of a person's life soften and fade from the mind of loved ones - because they will, as much as that might sting our pride - they increase in warm, strength, and value in the spiritual realm, much as a candle flame enlarges as it burns. In this case, it's a flame that eternally grows and burns, one that is never extinguished or forgotten.

Our names, the details of our works, these are not the important things and won't be much remembered except by God, but that's the remembrance that ultimately counts.

But the impressions of love and joy we make upon others, the example of our character and the way we choose to live, these DO affect others, who will take up the torch and light the way for generations to follow.

That's what it's alll about, Alfie.

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