Memory Box - Monday Musing, December 6, 2021
Memory Box. In a “pastoral charge” to a new ordinand, a ministerial colleague told the newly ordained that he should store the supportive cards, notes, and letters he receives in ministry in a memory box. The new ordinand was warned that the calling of ministry can be rough. Every parishioner has their own understanding of how a minister should spend their time, where attention should be focused, and which activities they should be responsible for. “There will be many complainers,” my colleague said, “so hang onto the words of those who take the time to write good things about you, so you can be uplifted when the sour notes pull you down.”
My colleague is on to something; I can echo the challenges and expectations of pastoral ministry. Memory boxes are designed to prompt conversation and provide mental and emotional stimulation, which means they are typically used for those who may be getting older and are beginning to show signs of memory loss. It provides an opportunity to look back and reminisce the past. But compiling uplifting memories from any challenging profession is a good reminder that it’s not always bad stuff we encounter every day, there are good things too – and there’s even proof in our box!
I started collecting positive, uplifting notes and letters that I received over the years and filed them away in a folder, which grew to a four-inch expandable binder. Lately it is bursting at the seams and cannot possibly hold one more sheet of paper. Thus, when I saw a sturdy, colorful box at Saturday’s ’Tis the Season Bazaar, the memory of my colleague suggesting to the new ordinand to have a memory box came to my mind. We hadn’t even opened the doors for the bazaar, I bought the box on the spot!
Last night I organized my cards and letters as I placed them in my newly purchased memory box. It was meaningful to read words from former parishioners, colleagues, and those who have been impacted by my work as a minister, dating as early as 2004. Organizing these written words lifted my spirits. My colleague was right.
Remembering is important. Yesterday we celebrated the sacrament of communion in worship. We remember Jesus each time we observe the sacrament. At the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus commissions the disciples, commanding them to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (28:19-20).
Our memories are only as good as we use them, so perhaps a box to hold our precious memories isn’t a bad idea after all. Fill that box with positive efforts of spreading God’s love. See you in church!