This past week I was able to participate in a memorial for Bonnie Walls, a dearly loved member of the BCS community. My husband and I were leading the worship for the service, but we were also invited to share a few thoughts about Bonnie.
As I considered what to share, I found myself asking some questions. I wondered... if people ask me, "who was Bonnie Walls? What was she like?" What would I say? How do I describe one person's life? What things seem most important to remember?
Memory is kind of a funny thing. It's a wonderful gift, and it gives life meaning in a lot of ways. But it still has limits. I can't and won't ever remember everything there was to know about who Bonnie was or what she was like.
But isn't it cool to think that one of the beautiful parts about our memories is how they fit together? I remember one thing, and maybe you remember another, and sometimes your memory reminds me of another one of my memories, and we are both enriched by sharing the little things we remember.
I hope now as I share a few things I remember, it will lead you to revisit your own memories, or help you learn something new, or maybe even remind you of some bigger truths beyond just the memories. Or if you didn't know Bonnie, I hope something I am sharing will remind you of someone else who has been special in your life, or of another one of your precious memories.
What do I remember about Bonnie?
I remember her gentle voice. She had a way of speaking that felt calming and reassuring, and I'm sure that was part of what made her such an incredible teacher.
I remember her heart to serve. I always knew I could ask Bonnie for help and she would always do whatever she could. If she was available, she would be not just willing to help but genuinely excited about helping. Like the time I asked if she wanted to make a big pot of chili for a chili cook-off we were having for school at an event that she would not have even normally needed to attend. But she was so happy to be able to be a part of it.
I remember her hugs. There are some people who, when they hug you, you just physically feel their love, and Bonnie was one of those people. Whenever she hugged me, she would usually also say she loved me and maybe give me a kiss too. And I always felt loved.
I remember her ever-ready smile and joyful laughter. I feel like Bonnie's default expression was one of joy. Whether it was while she was listening or as she was telling a story, there always seemed to be a smile there. And I don't think I ever had a conversation with her that didn't include her contagious laugh.
Maybe if I had to sum it up in one sentence, it would be this: Bonnie Walls was someone who looked a lot like Jesus because she faithfully loved people, served people and lived a life full of joy and peace.
Those are just a few of the memories that stand out to me when I think of Bonnie. If you knew her, what memories come to your mind? Have you shared them with anyone lately?
Someone recently told me that for people who live in nursing homes, it can be very healing and life-giving for them to share memories of their life with another person. I guess I had never really thought about this idea before, but the more I think about it, the more I love it. And the more I think it's true for anyone at any stage of life.
When I share a memory, I'm really sharing a part of myself. And meaningful relationships are built on people sharing themselves with each other. Eventually it becomes not really about the memory itself but about the connection that sharing the memory creates.
In some ways, the Bible itself is full of people sharing memories. Writing about what they remember. Memory itself is a gift, and maybe one of the ways God inspired the writers of the Bible was through allowing them to recall things, giving them memories. And then inviting them to share those memories.
I realize some memories are painful and we would rather forget them. But I have to wonder too if part of God's redemptive work in our lives is to take even our painful, difficult memories and bring good out them somehow. Of course, there is no reason to think that we all need to share all our memories with everyone all the time. But I hope maybe we can be encouraged to think that sharing our memories is one way for us to open ourselves to letting God bless us and bless others through us.
Last but not least, I'm thinking about all the times in the Bible when we are called to remember God in some way. Isn't it true that one way we can face any challenge is by remembering how God has been faithful in the past? As we share what we remember about God providing for us or helping us, we find our own faith being strengthened, as well as whoever hears us. At times when I am weak, it may be someone else's memory that gives me the courage I need to carry on.
May we cherish the gift of memory. May our memories enrich each other's lives in big and small ways. What do you remember today? What do you want to remember tomorrow? Take note of it and ask God for courage to share it with someone else.
Pray with me...
... Father, may we remember Your love and faithfulness every day and in every situation.
It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night. Psalm 92:2
... God, give us courage to share our memories with each other and those around us.
All your works praise you, Lord; Your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. Psalm 145:10-12
... Lord, may the memories of what You have done at BCS and WCA increase our faith and propel us forward with hope.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory
~ Carrie Warner, BCS/WCA Prayer Team Coordinator
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