Proper 8, June 26
I will call to mind the deeds of the Lord;
I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work,
and muse on your mighty deeds.
I was scrapbooking before scrapbooking was… well… Scrapbooking, with a capital S. Before it was a whole section in the craft store, before it was a familiar sitcom joke, and long before it turned digital with the advent of photobooks and Instagram. “Back in the day,” I decorated my pages with flowers fussy-cut from sheets of fancy (to me) stationery, and I used a glue stick to adhere paper doilies behind my photos. My mother before me saved yellowing photos in sticky photo albums; my grandmother before her had books full of small-format black and whites. I wanted something more. I didn’t just want to store photos; I wanted a place to tell stories, and I wanted a way to create art. And mostly I wanted to know that someday I’d look back at those pages and have an experience that would recapture the five senses and the deep feelings of my memories.
It’s possible I was overthinking things.
Since I shopped for my first scrapbook supplies 20 years ago, a few months after my wedding, my scrap habits have changed, and slowed, and sometimes stalled completely. But my urge to tell our stories persists. I still want to save the photos of my kids’ school musicals. I want to remember our family vacations. And I want to honor the milestones we mark, and the places and people we love.
In 20 years of fancy paper and double-sided tape and photography tutorials I’ve learned a thing or two. Thing One: fancy paper and double-sided tape and perfectly composed pics are a luxury, not a necessity, of memory-keeping. And Thing Two: those kept memories aren’t landmarks for me to cling to, but a winding trail of God’s faithfulness, giving context to my mistakes, comforting my losses, and leading me forward.
The Psalmist preserves the memories of God’s mighty deeds, God’s wonders, God’s footsteps in the waters, God’s shepherding–and all without a single snapshot or die-cut! Remembrance answers the cry of the heart. “My soul refuses to be comforted,” the Psalmist insists… then starts turning the pages of God’s fulfilled promises.
Summons up the senses, and sinks into the sounds of thunder, the pounding waves of the Creator’s hand.
Flips through the family tree of descendants, looks for the signs of heredity through the generations of redemption.
Traces God’s footsteps, even where they cannot be clearly seen. Follows the winding trail that still–still–stretches forward.
And finds comfort there.