Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
The activity is called “making memories.” It refers to how we approach the events of life, both the significant and the mundane, and how we take steps to intentionally add an extra element of meaning to the event.
We tend to make memories around times like weddings, graduations, special birthdays, vacations, fun days, etc. We have the pictures to prove it.
But right now, life is making a different set of memories for us. In the future, we will look back on these days. We will be asked questions such as ‘What was it like for you during the pandemic? How did you handle being without? Were you isolated and alone? What did you do to keep from worrying too much? ‘
We can expect that the answer will be something like: “I lost some things. I also gained some things. I rediscovered some of what I already knew.”
And, hopefully there will be this answer also, “I learned to pay attention to how I create memories.”
We are reminded daily of how much we have lost. Where health and life have been affected, those losses are significant. Millions have lost jobs, income, and livelihood. And there are the hidden losses; the long term emotional and psychological effects of what many experience as loss of innocence and a sense of safety and security. Some describe a loss of trust and an inability to envision a hopeful future.
But we have also gained a great deal. There is new appreciation for how interconnected we are, how much we need each other, and how, whether we rise or fall, we do it together. Right now we are in the proverbial lifeboat, but pretty much everyone else is in it with us.
We have also gained a new sense of how important it is to take care of those who are on the margins of life – those who are ill, weak, alone, and unable to care for themselves. Right now, they could easily slip over the edge.
So in future days when we are asked about our time in the pandemic, here’s hoping that we can not only say, “We got through it and tried to help others” but also, “We didn’t turn mean. We didn’t get bitter or fall into despair. We never lost sight of the good things.”
In his book, “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life” Richard Rohr tells us that these good things are the essence of God. He writes, “Whatever good, true, or perfect things we can say about humanity or creation, we can say of God exponentially. God is the beauty of creation and humanity multiplied to the infinite power.”
In his closing words to the Philippians, Paul offers us guidance for times like this. He says that the things that are just, pure, pleasing and commendable are never far away. “Think about these things,” he advises.
So for us, the formula for making memories is simple. Focus on those things that are just, pure, pleasing, commendable, and timeless. Focus on what we have gained.
Richard Rohr says it this way: “So get ready for some new freedom, some dangerous permission, some hope from nowhere, some unexpected happiness, some stumbling stones, some radical grace, and some new and pressing responsibility for yourself and for our suffering world.”
Right now, in this moment, we are defining how, in the future, we will look back on our time of the pandemic. What we think, feel, and do today will be tomorrow’s memories.
A hymn for today, Pass It On, says it this way:
It only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon all those around can warm in its glowing.
That’s how it is with God’s love, Once you’ve experienced it; You spread his love to everyone; you want to pass it on.
I wish for you, my friend, this happiness that I’ve found; you can depend on him, it matters not where you’re bound. I’ll shout it from the mountain-top; I want my world to know; the Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.
God is with us today and engages us in determining who we are and who we will be in the future. Thanks be to God. Amen.