No matter how much time passes, no matter what takes place in the interim, there are some things we can never assign to oblivion, memories we can never rub away. They remain with us forever. ― Haruki Murakami
Recently I enjoyed the French film The Past (Le Passé), a 2013 drama film centered on an Iranian man who returns to France after four years away from his wife and her two children to finalize their divorce procedure. The relationships of all the characters in the film are filled with complexity and tension. It made me realize how easily we may become hostages of our own past and lock ourselves into self-made prisons.
The past may have a powerful grip on our lives, giving it free reign to haunt and torture us – especially if we are living with guilt or regret. It can destroy our happiness and transform us into someone we never would have imagined we might be. Until we heal the wounds of our past, we will continue to bleed. Some people try to bandage the bleeding with work, with food, with alcohol, with drugs, with sex, but that sort of bandage only covers the surface of the wound while the infection spreads deeper inside to contaminate their lives. We must have the strength to open old wounds and remove the pain that is holding us in negative past memories. Perhaps then we will find peace.
If our memories of the past are painful, we need to consider the cause, and identify our guilt and pain before we can discover a solution. We can’t alter the past, but there is usually a way to repair the damage or at least acknowledge it and move forward. Perhaps we can focus on what’s happening in the present and try to see it in a positive light. Most importantly, as my dad used to say, “Learn from your mistake so if it happens again you will know how to deal with it.” We may want to talk with a close friend or a counselor who can help us understand things better. That may lift a burden off our shoulders and give us comfort. If possible we can also try to forgive those who have hurt us and surround ourselves with people who love us. Sometimes we may have to move away from people who insist on hurting us. If none of this helps us, we can pray about how we feel. Always we need to remember that we are wonderful, unique children of God.
The past can also be a great source of joy, amusement, and delight. We may have within us an internal scrapbook of memories of days gone by; pages we fondly thumb through full of people, places and experiences of great beauty. Nothing is truly lost that is carried in our heart and mind. Recently I’ve been playing songs from my past that are filled with snapshots of memories that I felt deeply about at some time. They hold for me remembrances of good friends, of pets, of crushes and past loves, of life on the farm, of living in cities, of travels, of births and deaths. Memories from the past are ever present – both good and bad stand side-by-side bringing us comfort and sorrow.
So as we grow up or as we grow older, we don’t completely change and stop loving the things we used to enjoy or fancy. We simply add more items to our memory list. For example, I will always love my dad’s stories, I still love the one-room schoolhouse where I first went to school, I love the music I’ve heard through the years, I love my dear old and new friends, I love all of the gardens I’ve planted in different locations around the country. I’ll never go a day without thinking about the memories of my past. So let’s appreciate our memories from the past and learn from them.
* Do you have painful memories that are in need of being healed?
* Can you make a memory list of things that you love, enjoy and will put a smile in your heart?
Beloved Healer, at times we come to you with heavy hearts that are in need of being healed from painful memories. When we are filled with anger, shame, embarrassment, or grief, we ask for your help in healing us. May we always recall that we are your treasured children, that we can remember our precious memories and give you thanks for them. Amen.