The Power of Remembering
The other day I pulled out my cell phone, typed a quick message to myself as a reminder and proceeded to email it to myself. I stuck the phone back in my pocket and looked at the TV for a split second when my phone buzzed with a notification. I thought, “Hey, somebody’s emailing me.” I took the phone out to find that, well, I forgot that I just emailed myself. You could say I have a memory similar to Dory in Finding Nemo. However, some things I remember vividly.
On the final day of a Music Conference recently in Orlando Florida, my friends and I decided to take a ride on the monorail. We got off at the Grand Floridian, the most luxurious, extravagant and expensive of the Disney resorts. Walking along the upper balcony we were shocked by a bizarre sight in the midst of this beautiful hotel. There was a woman who appeared to be an elderly homeless bag lady sitting alone on a bench just staring into space. She had a tall wig on, the type that you may have seen in the 1920s, very pale skin, painted on eyelashes and what appeared to be a period costume of a southern belle. The whole scene was kinda spooky. Was she sick? Was she a Disney character? Was she a bag lady who happened to find a place to rest in Disney’s most posh resort? Why would they allow this? We walked to the far side of the upper lobby trying to make out what we just witnessed.
We later learned from another guest she’s come to the same spot every single day since her husband passed away suddenly of a brain anurism. They enjoyed coming here together to hear the old jazz band. Now she comes alone, pushing a cart filled with Teddy Bears. My heart sank. I wanted to meet her. I really had no idea what to say as I began walking towards her, I think I just didn’t want her to be alone. As I got closer I smiled and said something to the effect of, “Excuse me, but do you know if the band over there is about to play?” She said “Yes, in five minutes. They play every 2 hours.” I asked if she had heard them before to which she replied ,” Everyday.” That opened a conversation where we talked about everything, from her husband Bruce, their children, her past, and that cart full of Teddy Bears that she kept close enough to serve as a barrier to anyone entering her space. Her name was Lynn. She never learned to drive so she paid someone to bring her…every single day.
She said, “I know people think I’m weird.” I said, “You’re not.” She mumbled something about blaming herself for how her life turned out. I couldn’t hold back at this point. “Do you know God loves you?” She said “Yes. I actually sit here and pray for everyone who walks by.” We talked about so much more before it became time for me to leave.
I left there with many thoughts that day, perhaps the most being the power of human memory. This woman, everyday remembering long gone precious moments with her husband. (I need to point out here that coming home and Googling Lynn, I found many webpages with people inquiring about the “homeless lady” at the Grand Floridian.)
I suspect most of us live with some type of powerful memories strong enough to take us back, and profoundly move us today. Some of my fondest memories are of growing up with 7 brothers and sisters in a small house in Lanham Md. Memories of hand me downs, vacations and football in the street. A friend in Germany unearthed a picture of me and sent it the other day of when I was 15, afro and all. It brought back a flood of memories. I also have memories of my parents taking us to church every week. (How in the world do you get 8 kids ready for church? That may be memories they’ve chosen to forget.) I vividly remember being reminded every week that Jesus, when celebrating communion with His disciples said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” One translation says, “Keep doing this in memory of Me.” I urge you today my friends, remember Jesus. Remember His powerful, unwavering promises.
Our loved ones may pass, hard times may persist, prayers may go unanswered, but remember this: Jesus promised to never leave you and never forsake you.
Father, thank you for the Lynns of this world who remind us to remember you.
There’s no place like Hope,