Everyday Spirituality

Posts tagged ‘memory’

Grafted to My Heart

In spite of how much knowledge we believe we have acquired there is so much we have yet to learn about our own physical bodies. There are so many theories circulating especially about the heart. So I am going to add my own heart theory.

This theory has been circulating through my mind for some time now. I truly believe that when you make the choice to love another person that over time the very makeup of your heart cells is changed.

Now to be clear I am not talking about the love you have for your spouse. This is my one sentence disclaimer.

Loving another person calls your very being to a higher level. I believe with the passage of time as your love for the other person grows you begin to change. With every passing year you gain more understanding and love for the person. The more you are with the person the more you share; the deeper the understanding. Gradually your heart begins to change in response to this love.

I am not talking about the feelings of being in love here; I am talking about the genuine love which comes from God’s commandment to love one another.

There is a visual I keep getting of little minute pieces of the one you love being sprinkled into your cells invigorating them, nourishing them if you will. Love really is good for us. Love keeps us physically healthier.

Certainly the love for God keeps us spiritually healthy. So why wouldn’t we reap physical benefits from loving another human being. We were created to love one another.

Any way back to my vision of the cells in my body…what if as you learn to love another person more and more with time little pieces of their essence take up residence in you and become part of who you physically are as a person. (Forgive me for that terrible run on sentence…) In this manner they would really be with you forever.

When you have loved someone for a long time after they die the parts of them in your cells do not die along with their physical body. This presence is more than a vivid memory of who they were this is a part of your heart.

You carry a part of them with you wherever you go. They have become grafted to your own person. The grafting of plants is very common. I think we can experience a grafting of the spirit of another person.

Once this grafting is firmly connected in the heart it is part of the cell structure.

When this happens you are overheard making comments like, ‘I felt her presence with me’ or ‘she was leading me to _______’. Once you have someone grafted onto your heart they are there as long as your heart has the life giving blood rushing through the veins and arteries.

There are numerous references to the heart in the Bible. The very act of praying comes from the heart. Prayer the raising of one’s mind and heart to God. The heart is the dwelling place where God resides. The heart is our hidden center. The heart is what we honor with our decisions. The heart is the place of truth. The heart is where we first make a decision.

If the heart is where we encounter God and live in relation with him; to me it follows that the heart must also be where we are in relation with all those we love deeply.

Whether or not my little heart theory is correct does not really matter…What matters is how you love another person and how that love gets grafted onto your heart. What matters is how this love changes the very essence of your cells as they are changed to include the other person’s love for you.

Your love for one another changes not only your heart, but the other person’s heart too. You exchange cell grafts. Once you love another person you are never exactly the same ever again.

The love God has for us certainly changed us for all eternity. “For God so loved the world” John 3:16

When Jesus says I will be with you always until the end of time it is precisely because his love has changed our hearts. God is love and he is in our hearts.

As with any other graft you must care for this gift of love.

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Flashes of the Past

I have been known to enjoy some science fiction movies from time to time. I really like The Abyss it is the most beautiful love story. Keeping that in mind I wish there were a way to virtually project into real-time past memories as you called them to mind or as they come forward. I know it sounds silly and that is why we have movie cameras…to capture those moments we want to preserve.

I have had a couple experiences recently not of déjà vu exactly but similar. My friend and I took our ministry to several other parishes beside our own. A few years ago we gave a women’s retreat based on the powerful story of the Woman Caught in Adultery at another parish.

When I had the occasion to visit the parish again I was not really thinking about the possibility of being in the very same room, but as it turned out we were. It felt surreal walking into this room again. So much of what we had done together in that space came flooding back into my body. I almost had to stop and take a deep breath before crossing the threshold. We had also presented an Advent series about the Blessed Mother in that very same room.

As I sat in the space I wanted to close my eyes and relive every detail of our time together in that exact room. I could picture us standing in the front of the room together walking the women into the scripture story that cold winter Saturday morning. I could hear us talking about Jesus writing in the sand. Then I could see the women coming forward with their sand during the closing ritual.

It was an emotionally charged day and now those emotions are mixed inside me with the emotions of her absence. We can never do that presentations together again and it was my favorite. It had been the very first day of prayer we did for our own parish. Even my mother and sister were present.

Memories are malleable to me you can take them in your hand. They can bring you comfort in times of sadness. Sometimes a memory will materialize when you least expect and surprise you. Sometimes memories have a way to make you appreciate even more something you once had.

The last time we presented together was for the team of women’s retreat for our parish. I am already beginning to emotionally prepare for my return visit to this person’s home as I have been asked to present to another retreat group in this person’s beautiful home.

I guess I am just being sentimental. I know sooner or later I will not be having these déjà vu experiences any longer. As more time passes there is less and less of a connection. Not that the person is any less missed or less loved it’s just that other memories get stored on top.

The most recent research on the brain and memory indicates that our memories are stored in several places throughout our brain. When we recall an event our incredible brain reconstructs the bits and pieces of information into one unified memory. But it makes sense then that occasionally we have missed some of the details or ‘remembered’ something incorrectly. Our memories are not fool-proof, but recording details in a journal is a great tool to help reconstruct an event. Of course pictures are another excellent way to preserve memories. Movies are probably the most accurate way to preserve something you want to remember many years later. I know many people scrapbook which becomes a wonderful keepsake for generations to come.

We have an amazing brain that is why just walking into a room can trigger the details of something that occurred in that location. I am sure you have all had the experience of heading to another room to get something only to reach the room with no memory of why you were going there. The easiest way to remember is to return to the place where you had the thought of what you wanted from the other room.

I wonder what our life would be like if we could not ever remember anything. I think they have made a movie about something like that, maybe 100 First Dates. I am not sure.

I do cherish my memories they conjure up all sorts of emotions within my soul. It makes me happy to remember the presentations my friend and I did together. And it makes me sad to think we will never be presenting together again.

The most vivid memories we can recall are often colored by a strong emotion…love…fear…joy…sadness. Strong emotions embed the memory into our psyche giving it a much longer retention rate.

 

I pray for those whose loved ones suffer from memory loss. Dementia is a devastating disease especially when the person is the picture of health. It is hard to experience the apparent ‘death’ of the person you once loved because of Alzheimer’s, a most devastating disease for family members.

We actually rely a great deal on our memory. Take a moment and express gratitude for your memory. You might want to recall one of your most precious memories to date.

Close your eyes and try to recall as many of the details as possible. Who is there…where you were…what it looked like…what could you hear…what were your feelings at the time?