by Christine Sine
As many of you know I have been in Australia for the last couple of weeks reconnecting to family and friends as well as to places I love and remember from my childhood. It has been a very special time and one that has left me feeling closer to my family, to God and to the land I love.
As I say in The Gift of Wonder, reminiscing is important for all of us.
It increases our social connectedness and sense of fulfillment in our accomplishments as positive memories rise to the surface. When we immerse ourselves in memories of our younger selves, we become healthy, our aches and pains are reduced, our weight and posture improve, our dexterity increases. Even our eyesight improves. (The Gift of Wonder 39)
What has interested me on this trip is how my reminiscing with brothers and friends has reinforced positive memories and allowed negative memories to fade into the background. As we visited the house in which I grew up, shared childhood memories and walked on the beach where I spent many happy hours swimming and playing with my brothers, my delight in my childhood has grown and become filled with joy.
As I reflect back on this time part of what I realize is that this joy has been able to grow because of past exercises in remembering and retelling my story with God at the center.
In The Gift of Wonder I explain:
Telling our stories is powerful, even when there is pain and trauma we are not sure we want to revisit and it is far more than the nostalgia effect. Reminiscing often unveils the invisible hand of a loving God who shaped and guided us to become the people we are. When we neglect these stories, they hold us prisoner to fear and pain. Retelling them is an invitation to the exhilarating adventure of an awakened and full life.
This is not the first time I have talked about the importance of remembering, in fact it is only six months since I wrote The Practice of Remembering, but it is important, I find to do this on a regular basis because each time we remember it peels away layers to the true and special times inside. And as we approach Thanksgiving in America and the seasons of Advent and Christmas it seems to me that there is no better time to reminisce – reminisce on our own life story and on the story of God as it is experienced in our lives. After all Advent is about reminiscing and remembering. It is about reminding ourselves of the story of God and the wonder of what God has done both for and in us.
This time, as I reminisced, I have found it important to reread the chapter Let Your Life Speak in The Gift of Wonder as a basis for my reflections. You might like to do the same as you prepare for the upcoming festive season.
This is what I feel I have experienced on this trip. Because of the healing I have found in the past, more healing is possible not just for me but for all my family and that healing continues to draw us closer each other and to God, and it is a healing that can then be handed on to the next generation.
So here is a little glimpse into the special moments of my reminiscing on this trip.
The photo above shows me walking barefoot on the beach where I spent many happy hours as a child. Such a special memory to relive and it reminded me too of the importance of going barefoot that I wrote about earlier this year.
Reminiscing with family also meant meeting and spending time with the newest members of the next generation – what a special time to be able to share stories of the past and create memories for the future
I was also delighted to see flowers that I have not seen since I was a teenager – may not seem important to some of you but for those like me who love flowers this too is a special time of remembering
What Is Your Response
Take some time to reminisce on your childhood. Perhaps you want to reread the section in The Gift of Wonder, or get together with family (perhaps over Thanksgiving) to do your own reminiscing.
What are the important events that come to mind?
What are the places and objects that are important.
Spend time reflecting on these. What new memories are forming for you?