Remembrance of Me

Engraved on the sturdy oak communion table
that sits in front of the raised pulpit
of Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn
are the words “In Remembrance of Me.”

Remembering is critical to faith–and,
I think, to understanding
the phenomenon known as life.

I can’t deny I often come back to journaling
when I want to think, to reflect,
and to record my thoughts. Journaling
has become a kind of communion table.

Ray Bradbury said, “Don’t think. Just write.
I don’t think, I just write.”
As for me, I go to my journal.

Again, Bradbury said, “You fail only if you stop writing.”
And he confessed, “I was too poor
to go to college (during the Great Depression)
so I went to the library three days every week.”
Where, undoubtedly, he not only read, but wrote.

Can a case be made for understanding
the passage of time as a life of remembrance?
We know nothing of the time that is yet to come;
we simply inhale its mysteries and revelations.

And we can only know the past if we record it,
or if we read some other’s recalled images,
often engraved in granite or marble.

The past is dead life; it can only be recorded;
mind is a scribe; thus, the past is embalmed.
The future is not-yet life.
We create it moment by moment.
Only the present is life. Time is life.

Living is a voyage into time.
So we have records and writings
to help us embalm the past, and we can write,
scribbling our attempts to imprison the present.
But we can only dream the future and wonder.

I’ve been late coming to many realizations;
always in the category of a “late-bloomer.”
Even in grade school, my teachers frequently
characterized me “a boy who should be on top.”

But what did those caretakers know about boys
who didn’t worry about being “on top”?
Why didn’t they teach me
the amazing power and joy of wondering?

Educators can only assess students
by examining past performances.
The wisest among them provide
opportunities for wonder, and
to do so they also must wonder.

Are we all, I wonder,
as centenarian poet Ferlinghetti suggests,
walkers on a tightrope
“constantly risking absurdity”?

And what did Jesus understand about life
when he “went apart from his friends to pray?”
Did he also do this in remembrance of me?


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