Feeding the Flame
A dusty eight-inch knight in armor stands guard on my desk, holding a letter-opener lance in his gauntleted hands. Years ago, he stood watch on my father’s desk. Next to the knight sits a well-worn prayer book, stuffed prayer and holy cards, that belonged to my mother.
I keep these objects on display to remind me of my parents. It works with, well, limited success. On busy days I hardly glance at the knight or the prayer book, but I think my parents would be OK with that.
This month’s theme is remembrance, which can take many forms—remembrance through objects, storytelling, and actions.
In Father Matthew Powell’s article “Small Offerings of Reverence,” his review of the history of holy cards suggests remembrance through objects. Similar to the holy cards in my mom’s book, or the book itself, items often hold the weight of meaning and memory. My son likes to wear his grandfather’s watch, not only because it’s a beautiful object but also because it carries rich of his grandfather.
As columnist Johan van Parys notes in “Symbols That Surround Us,” stories help keep such memories alive. Like Johan, I relish the power of storytelling, and I’m optimistic the practice will grow, though perhaps in methods that are new and maybe even strange to us. Remembrance can also take the form of action, which is something my parents would have been most interested in. Kathleen Basi’s “Just Live It” column, for example, talks about a potent way to keep a person’s memory alive—to live by his or her example.
Remembrance is strongest for me when I merge all of the aforementioned ideas. Keeping a journal, writing a letter to a loved one, making a video, or pulling together a scrapbook of documents and photos are all ways to feed the flame of memory. Whether your memories are sparked by a well-worn object, an engaging story, or reflective action, may they all be warm.