Thursday, September 16, 2010


Images are a recurring topic of conversation in my life. In various debates, my husband has emphasized the strength of our childhood memories. His inparticularly are the images he has of marriage from his own parents. My mother has images of her own mother sitting on the porch, the couch, the bed saying her rubber banded book of daily prayers. But she also recalls an image vivid in her mind of coming out of her room in the early hours of a morning to find her father, not particularly religious, on his knees in the bathroom in prayer. "I don't know if he had ever done it before or if he did it every day. I was not usually up at that time. But it something I will never forget."

Smells, sounds, a song, seasons in the year bring to our mind an image. Sometimes they are wonderful like the smell of baking cookies that fill our hearts with the warm love of our mother. We can see her in the kitchen in her apron, flour on her nose. Sometimes they are painful, like the dull ache that comes with the Monarch Butterfly each fall with the image of the letter written to a friend, returned because he died before he could read it.

We spoke today in Bible study, while discussing the Psalms, of our responsibility to form our children so they are not like chaff in the wind. I couldn't stop thinking about Images. What my children will remember long after they have to listen to what I say is not what I said. It will be images. What will they see?

What do I see?
I see my father's walk. I see it from the back: long even strides, shoulders slightly stooped. He is deep in thought not noticing the passing crowds.
I see my mother in the kitchen singing to herself.
I see my sister with a book.
My brothers riding bikes.
I see Family Dinners in a sunny room. Ping pong tournaments. Indiana Jones on the big screen.
I see our church, the woven brown and gold material of the pews, my father always on the end.
I see my grandpa's truck, the ashtray filled with coins, the bed filled with fishing gear.
I see my grandmother's drawers, a place for everything and everything in its place.
I see my other grandma's sweet smile.

What images will children have? Mine, yours, the guy over there?
It can give reason to pause, can't it? For it is not reasonable what we remember. It is what it is. My mom saw her dad pray once and only once. She saw her mom pray everyday. She remembers both, one for its rarity the other for its familiarity. I remember going to the movies as a family because it only happened once, but I remember family dinners because they happened every day.

Do I yell more than I smile? Do I nag more than I praise? Am I always in a rush? Will they remember the good things because they were so common or because they weren't? What will they see?

What gives me hope is that while our images do form us, I also think as time passes we form our images. The relationship we have with people determines what we remember most or at all. The kind of people we really think they are effects the kind of images we see. So, while I will surly try and leave my children with beautiful images, perhaps if I try harder to nurture our relationship and to make my own soul beautiful, my children in time will smooth out the edges, crop a few things here and there and see a mom who loved them more than life...with flour on her nose.

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