Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Memoria

Memoria is the Latin word for memory. I have been bathing in the idea of memory over the past two years or so. Isn't it profound how much we depend upon memory? All of the day to day functions of life depend upon being able to remember things. Our self-perception of our identity seems to be inextricably linked to our memories. But, what happens if we can no longer remember? What happens if our memory fails us? I am not simply talking about forgetting where you put your keys, or forgetting to turn a light off when you have left a room. I am talking about catastrophic memory loss, the kind of which happens when you suffer from Alzheimer's or another related disease or occurrence that wipes away your memory. Those who have had friends, relatives or spouses who have encountered memory loss of this kind know the devastating effects this has on relationships, families, and the self-perception of the one who suffers from the memory loss.
A couple of months ago, the senior pastor of the church I work at began talking to me about his vision for a support group that offers care and encouragement to people who have loved ones with memory loss. He wanted to offer a support group type of ministry that encouraged, informed, and ministered to these people (the loved ones and caregivers). Over the past several months I have been working on creating that very support group. I titled the name of this group Memoria because this is the Latin word for memory. It has been a difficult process researching, planning and creating this support group from the bottom up. It has at times been overwhelming because of the staggering statistics about people facing diseases such as Alzheimer's which over time wipe away memory.
The overly simplistic perception I had of Alzheimer's before I undertook this project was that it simply made it harder and harder to remember things. That is of course true, but this disease and loss of memory in general is a far more complex experience than just losing one's memory. That is where it all begins, but with loss of memory comes a whole host of other devastation's. For example, once someone begins to lose their memory due to Alzheimer's disease they will never again recall the memories they have lost. Over time their ability to reason through to logical conclusions disappears, their ability to do routine tasks disintegrates, their ability to interact with other human beings is hampered, and much, much more.
All this is to say that memory is a profound gift. Centering my understanding of what it means to be human in my understanding of a God who created human beings, I believe that God gave us memory in order to be able to establish self-identity, share in life giving and loving relationships, communicate with one another, and look back in order that we might see the way forward.
May God grant us all the ability to remember his faithful acts and to place our faith in him knowing that he has brought us thus far and that he will carry us through the tough times we might face ahead. Amen.