The Gift of Memory

Beloved Daily Guideposts author, Brian Doyle, reflects on the glorious moments that live inside us.

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Memory Lane street sign, rural road in sepia

But the... Holy Ghost... he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance... —John 14:26 (KJV)

I was just thinking that everything that ever happened to me abideth in me somewhere, most of the time misfiled and misplaced in the most careless fashion. I mean, who was in charge of organization here, a newborn chipmunk? But inchoate and incoherent as it is in my memory, every wild, savory, painful, epic moment is there.

Here comes our daughter sliding out of the sea of her mother, followed seemingly moments later by her twin brothers. Here is my grandmother shrinking noticeably every day until she is a small dry stick and then a song we sing in Gaelic every year.

Here is my oldest brother, a mountain of a man, and here he is during his last summer, half of what he was, but still grinning and making wry remarks as his voice failed and then the rest of him. Here is my mother riffling my crew cut and, fifty years later, here I am rubbing her shoulders, which are sore after a long day on the walker. Here are all my sins, squirming and sneering, though I have tried mightily to forget them and be shriven of them.

Everything that ever happened to you is inside of you, and a scent or a snippet of song or a voice in the distance or a sudden sparrow unlocks the door, and there you are, age five or fifty, weeping and giggling, inundated by miracles, admitting you have been a fool, delighted that sometimes you weren’t. We forget nothing; we just forget the compartment number and the lock combination. Isn’t this miraculous?

Lord, we hardly ever say thanks for the incredible moist computers on our shoulders, a million times cooler than any shiny machine that could ever be invented, for our wet machinery can handle love and joy and prayer and emotion and faith.

Editor's Note: Sadly, beloved Daily Guideposts contributor Brian Doyle passed away on May 27, 2017. We are forever grateful for the many gifts he shared with us. 

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