Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Memory Holes

Shortly after those ancestors of Americans we call the Pilgrims landed in what is now called Plymouth Harbor, the leader of the Wampanoag people came for a visit. Massasoit approached their primitive settlement as a tentative gesture of friendship. After several months, two Pilgrims returned the gesture, venturing deep into the wilderness.

As they walked along the trails, they noticed circular pits placed at various points along the way. These were what the Native Americans called 'memory holes', storytelling devices which appeared wherever a remarkable event had taken place. As the Wampanoags walked along the trails, they would pause at each memory hole to once more tell the story. By doing so, they not only passed on these stories to the next generations, they affirmed that the roots of their community, their identity as a people, stretched far into the past.

When we gather for worship, we walk along those pathways to and through the kingdom, stopping at one of the 'memory holes' in Scripture. As we pause and reflect, in song and silence, in prayer and praise, we discover once more how God has been involved with God's beloved children, calling us, transforming us, gifting us, sending us. When we tell these stories, we are not only telling them to our children and their children, but we are affirming that the roots of this community of God we call the church stretches far into the past.

But we also discover these memory holes around fellowship tables at a church potluck and when we play a round of golf. We hear these stories beside a bed in the hospital, and sitting in the stands at a school sporting event. We learn of those special people, not only in our churches, but in those communities where we live, when we chat with a neighbor on a warm Sunday evening, or stand on the front lawn after church. We are blessed with the gifts of all those who have gone before us, who dug all those memory holes, so we might hear the story of how much God loves us, and in the hearing, become storytellers ourselves.

As you wander through this day, this week, this life, keep your eyes open for the memory holes - and listen!

(c) 2009 Thom M. Shuman

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