A Prayer about Memories

I ran across a fantastic prayer this morning in one of the recent issues of Weavings.

I am reminded daily of the fact that a human being has a body too. I had thought that my spirit and heart alone would be able to sustain me through everything. But now my body has spoken up for itself and called a halt. I now realize, God, how much you have given me. So much that was beautiful and so much that was hard to bear. Yet whenever I showed myself ready to bear it, the hard was directly transformed into the beautiful. And the beautiful was sometimes much harder to bear, so overpowering did it seem. To think that one small human heart can experience so much, Oh god, so much suffering and so much love, I am so grateful to You, God for having chosen my heart in these times to experience all the things it has experienced. (Etty Hillesum, executed in Auschwitz in 1943).

As I've been thinking a lot about what role our memory plays in spiritual formation, this quote again brought to mind the fact that our past experiences are the grounds for our gratitude to God in the present.

We learn to trust.

We learn to follow.

We're compelled to leave behind our agenda on a daily basis because we've seen the light of a new agenda.

If we aren't willing to allow God's Spirit to redeem our regrets, to restore our pain, and to realize the goodness of the darkness then we're fated to constantly see God as limited, operating only in the present moment and impotent to handle the wider scope of our gritty narrative.

It doesn't get much grittier than Auschwitz. Let us pray.