Thursday, December 8, 2011

Memories: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Fr. Dale Matson

            The Good, The Bad And The Ugly is the title of the third in a series of three Spaghetti Westerns starring Clint Eastwood released in 1966. It reminds me of a way of describing three types of memories common to all of us.
The first types of memories are good. Some events in our contemporary life may trigger this kind of memory. For example, Sharon cut a two inch piece off the bottom of the trunk of our Christmas tree so it would fit better into the tree stand. Watching the grandchildren roll the piece up and down our driveway for almost an hour reminded me of my sons playing for hours in a large cardboard box that had contained one of their Christmas toys. I should have just bought the box. This then reminded me of the Christmas we made a snow fort in my folk’s back yard in Michigan. We rolled up massive snow balls, butted them together forming a rectangle and lifted more on top of them. By the time we were done, we had stripped the lawn of its white blanket.
The second types of memories are bad. I cut myself the other day and it reminded me of the time my dad was opening a split shot sinker with his fishing knife and it slipped, cutting him severely. He shouted, “Balls of fire!” then simply wrapped his finger in his snotty handkerchief until the bleeding stopped while we continued to fish. In those days, you didn’t leave home without the multipurpose handkerchief. Bad memories also consist in moral failures of commission and omission. In many cases we have not had the opportunity to make amends but have asked God for His forgiveness. I believe while God, as promised, has forgotten our confessed sins, Satan never does and enjoys serving up the memories and attendant false guilt.
The third types of memories are ugly. On my morning run, I remembered something I had said to an individual years ago at a high school lunch table. It was unkind and intended to publicly embarrass her. Why are these types of memories ugly? It is because it is unfinished business that God has brought to our attention. We are convicted by the Holy Spirit for the first time about a sin we only now remember. There is a wince as we recognize the full import and impact. “I’m sorry Lord, please forgive me.”
Sanctification is as much about the ongoing part of the conversion process as it is becoming a holy person. There is so much about us that we do not yet know until God shines His cleansing light into the dark crevices of our memories. Christ knows us better than we know us (then we shall know as we are known). He loves us so much that He was willing to die to redeem even the unknown and unconfessed parts of us too. I believe we could not deal with our sins being revealed to us all at once. "I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12). This statement by Jesus is true for the Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Amen

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