Though I am not a sentimental person, my home has many sentimental items scattered about. There’s an old colored glass window from our first home as a married couple, refurbished as a wall hanging. On another wall hangs a collage of pictures from Zimbabwe – one of my favorite places in the world. Upstairs is a framed Mary Oliver poem given to us by our college pastor. And I have a pair of wooden shoes, to remember my Dutch heritage on my father’s side.
My office at the church has items of remembrance too. I have a picture of the kids of the churches of West Newton, from when I served there. Bowling trophies remind me of friendships I made while serving at Chippewa. And a metal plate depicting seashells reminds me of my baptism, as well as the childhood pastor who gifted it to me upon my ordination.
I cherish these things not because of what they are, but because of who and what they remind me of. This is why we tend to surround ourselves with these “items of remembrance.” Memories, especially of people we love or loved, tend to bring comfort. Some days, I pass by these items of remembrance without noticing them. But other times, they catch my attention and force me to pause and remember a person, an experience, or an act of love. And when I remember, I lift up prayers of thanksgiving for those memories and the people connected to them.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul began, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Phil. 1:3). He was filled with joy and thanksgiving at his memory of the Philippians. Memories have a way of moving us to thank God for those memories and the people with whom we share those memories.
As you move through this season of giving thanks, pay close attention to the people and moments that come to mind. As the memories come, take a moment to pause and thank God for those people. And if those people are still living, let them know with a card or a phone call that you thank God every time you remember them. Above all, give God thanks for all the memorable people and events which surround you.