In a post-menopausal, 50-something state, remembering the small things, like where my phone is, what I went upstairs for or something someone asked me to do in passing, is something that seems less easy now than in the past.
My strategies to overcome this is to try to put things in a consistent place and write lists and notes. I am encouraged when I meet others at the same stage of life that say the same – it makes me feel better about it. I’m told, like many things, it’s a stage and things will improve – I’ll wait and see!
This time of year is an important time for remembering. We have made space and time in our churches on All Souls’ Day to remember all those that we have loved who have died, we have marked All Saints’ Day, honouring those who are remembered as saints having experienced an extraordinary outworking of the Holy Spirit, and we are almost at Remembrance Sunday.
Remembrance services take place in many schools, ensuring that understanding about the concepts of war and peace are explored, reflected on and prayed about, and remain in our collective consciousness. In a visit to a school last year, a Year 6 child told me about their act of remembrance. She and her surviving parent had fled from their home country as it was unsafe because of conflict. She told me that during the service they had all said the words “we will remember them”. She could not understand why this had to be said as she could not comprehend how anyone could forget what happens during wars and fighting. She told me, “I will never, never forget what happened and I don’t want other people to either. We have to do better.”
Corporate remembering can be extremely powerful and moving. It reminds us, in a world of increasing individualism, that we are bound together as community and are interconnected in our reminiscences and recollections. There is something remarkable and beautiful in the Remembrance Sunday parades and services that bring generations together. Children and young people from the uniformed organisations and their leaders and families stand shoulder to shoulder with veterans, serving personnel, those with connections to previous acts of war and members of our worshipping communities in a shared act of remembering. This has a unique poignancy and a beauty seldom found elsewhere. This collective act, giving thanks for the service and sacrifice of people who have served in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations, gives a common purpose for not only giving thanks but also crying out to God for peace.
Sadly, we are not only in a state of remembering conflict from the past, we are in the midst of an horrific situation in Israel–Palestine. As Bishop Rachel wrote last week, we are called to raise our voices to call for peace and for the violence to end. As a world – we must do better.