This post originally appeared in the winter 2013 edition of Christian Writer, the Association of Christian Writers members’ magazine – as a ‘Finding Inspiration’ column. Reproduced here by permission of the editor.
Our memories are powerful. They summon old emotions and revive previous discoveries; they help us understand who and where we are in the world.
The troubled writer of Psalm 77 directs his attention to God in memory: ‘I will call to mind the deeds of the LORD; I will remember your wonders of old’ (v11, NRSV). The biblical writers often called on their memories in difficult times. They retold old stories of their saving God. Memories gave them hope – hope that God would once again deliver. Hope that today was not forever. Hope for something bigger, better, far more solid than the ground on which they stood.
They also called on their memories in the good times, celebrating past events and allowing them to spill over into present reality.
There is an echo of memory in everything we write. Our experiences inform our worldviews. As an exercise, try using memory more consciously. Describe one of your most powerful memories. Use all the senses – sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. Allow this description to trigger other pieces, such as a poem or short story based on an emotion you felt at the time.
Let the memory direct your stream of consciousness – stumbling over other memories, other moments, on the way.
Then try focusing on a memory of God at work in your life (if you haven’t done so already!). Allow God to speak to you through this again, in the present. Write about it in your journal or as a stand-alone piece. Keep that piece of writing not just for ‘material’ but as a reminder – this happened. This is part of my faith journey. I will remember.
We talk a lot about writing ‘goals’, but writing is also a tool – a tool we can use to explore our faith and remember what it means to us.