Some years ago I volunteered to do visitations on a regular basis in a County Nursing Home. I became sensitized to the expression “short term and long term memory.” Social workers and nurses would sometimes warn me that certain residents I was visiting had “long term memory…but no short term memory” or in less frequent situations “short term memory…but no long term memory.” When there was long term memory but not short term a person could remember their life accomplishments, friendships, family events, and hardships from the past 90 years on the planet…but they couldn’t remember what they ate for lunch…or where they put their TV remote…or who visited them an hour ago.
I have noticed that occasionally I move from either a keen short term memory to keen long term memory…. on lesser days I experience impairment to both forms of memory. Sometimes I can’t find the keys I have placed on the counter two minutes ago, sometimes I can’t remember the name of a girl I went to the Sr. Prom with. It can be a bit frightening to feel your memory is slip, slip, sliding away.
During this past Holy Week and Lenten journey I was keenly aware of my memories being nourished through the faithful witness of Scripture and through some wonderful Holy Week services. Images such as Gethsemane, the Last Supper, the Cross, the Empty Tomb, and Jesus greeting his disciples behind locked doors and saying “behold, I am risen.” And finally Jesus breathing on his disciples the Holy Spirit and then ascending with finality to God. These images constantly fed my memory and fortified my consciousness of His grand plan. How could I forget His deep love with such powerful memories fortified by sacred scripture and potent images? In truth I am quite sure the Disciples couldn’t forget either. We do know the disciples fled the garden, but we do know they took memory with them. They took heart stopping memories of a man who called himself no less than God in the flesh. And they couldn’t get him out of their minds. Try as they might to lose him in the crowd, they couldn’t forget him.
If they saw a leper, they thought of his compassion.
If they heard a storm, they would remember the day he silenced one.
If they caught a fish, they would remember His charge to be fishers of men.
If they saw a child, they would think of the day he held one.
If they saw a lamb being carried to the temple, they would remember his face streaked with blood and his eyes flooded with love.
The Disciples could not forget him. As a result they came back, and gathered, and waited the coming of God’s spirit. And, as a result, the church of our Lord began with a group of frightened men in an upper room…WHO WOULD NEVER FORGET WHAT JESUS HAD DONE FOR THEM, AND US!