The small pieces littered my grandmother’s table. I tried to organize them by color to help him but I realized he could do it on his own. I celebrate his independence but it still pokes and prods my comfort level with letting go of his need for me. The Lego rocket and truck set is nearly complete.
The room in my grandparents’ home is quiet while his younger brother naps. Time whispers moments long gone of three rowdy boys who used to wreak mischievous havoc on one another. The boys are grown and long moved on. This boy of mine is on his way, too.
I stare at him to try to remember it all. His new disdain for getting his photo taken causes me to work harder to take the mental snapshot. My heart tries to take it all in – the shape of his cheeks, the mouth held still as he focuses, his eyes shifting from instructions to pieces. Even if he allowed, a photo could not capture the moment for the treasure of the moment is not what is seen with the eye but what is felt in the heart.
When the shepherds left and the choirs ceased, Luke tells us, “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). When they returned to home after the Temple incident where she yelled at the Son of God in front of everyone, Luke tells us, “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51).
Mary’s treasure chest held the sweet memories of shepherds and the bittersweet memories of anxiety over such a great responsibility. It held the times when she must have wondered if her expanding treasure chest could fit within her human frame – the way I feel sometimes when life brings more than I can even wrap my arms around.
As the trajectory became clear that Jesus’ life was beyond anything that she could contain or control, the treasure chest became all the more important. It was the place that stored her remembrances as she let go of his physical presence with her.
So I practice cherishing the memories and letting go of the moments.
The moment is brief. It is an exact point of time that cannot be retained, accumulated, or compiled for later. It is only to be lived as it comes. Our grasping at the moments as they pass is surely comical for the saints who watch. The saints know that the days are not ours to hold. The saints know that the moments belong to the Holy Source that never promises possession of days but only the blossoms that bloom when remembering them.
The memory lasts. When we take the efforts to cherish the moments as they come and the time to ruminate on them when they are past, they fill the treasure chest within us. The treasure chest is more than scrapbooks that gloss over difficulty or social media posts that boast life’s sweetness. The treasure chest is our greatest source of wisdom for the future and strength for the present. It is the place where divine light reveals truth and grants meaning for our days.
May the light pour forth over the treasure chest within as we share its gifts with those around us so that when our memories do fade as time passes, the gifts have already found their home in another’s treasure chest. And so the story goes on, passed from one generation to another to the glory of the One who grants our days and fills our treasures chests.