Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
- Lewis B. Smedes
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
I’ve been missing my grandmother. Mamo. She’s been in heaven for 10 years, but I still miss her every day.
The boys and I visit my parents, and I’m not surprised to find that my mother has been missing Mamo, too. Together Mom and I sit on the sofa, shoulder to shoulder, a time-worn photo album stretched wide on our laps. We talk and share and turn pages slowly. There’s a photo from the ’40s. Mamo’s in pearls and a dress. There’s another of Mamo on the front porch of the house my grandfather built. One small daughter is on her hip and two more are pressed against the folds of her skirt. Mom and I move through one album and sink deep into another. We move through generations. There are birthdays and weddings and babies. There are holidays and celebrations. Christmases. Easters. Great groups of trick-or-treating grandchildren with wide, jack-o'-lantern smiles.
These photographs offer a story. It’s picture book of life.
I sit and look long and after a while I begin to think about treasured moments. Like the times that Mamo whispered encouragement. Or bolstered my shaky confidence with a you-can-do-it smile. I think about the times she ran her fingers through the fine strands of my hair and made me feel cherished. Or when she silently spoke love with a hug or by folding her soft, warm hand over mine. Mamo was like that. Gentle love flowed into the relationships she had. Into the strangers she met. And sitting beside my mother, I understand that these are the true snapshots of life–pictures that are too private or spontaneous for the camera.
The most precious, captured times are when we reach into another’s life and the moment is rich with love.
Mom and I sit for a bit longer. There is no conversation now. I stay in the silence and appreciate these photos. They’re a beautiful record. But as I close the last book, I have a renewed passion.
Lord, let your love flow through me so that my life will lend quiet snapshots. Those that are shy of the lens. Let there be tender moments held not in sepia or black and white, but in the secret places of a human heart. Amen.
Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.
Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications. She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward. But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.