I once came across a bit of spiritual wisdom that resonated well with me. I don’t remember who it was or where it was, but it stuck. The gist was: mundane religious habits and habitual acts of worship oftentimes feel silly, basic even, in light of our extraordinary God, but even so, they are important. Why? Because they help us to remember.
And we are so forgetful, aren’t we?
I’ll speak for myself. I know I am quite easily distracted by the newest, brightest (and often fleeting) idea, hobby, fashion, relationship or the like. And quite frankly, living in new inspiration feels far better than singing the doxology every Sunday or tithing every month. But even so, the habit still helps me to remember. Once again, in between the lines of the song, I think or sense that my God does not change, and that He is with me, and that He is the Love that will not leave. And even when I do not feel close to Him, the practice keeps me anchored at least for a little bit. I have learned to trust the motions and God’s working in them, albeit that my heart does not always sing.
I thought about this idea of remembering when I framed a picture from my trip to Africa and put it on my desk at work.
For two weeks in May, I went to Rwanda. I experienced a nation pulled by the tension of two deep attachments: fear and hope. I played with Rwandan children. I learned Rwandan dances. I shopped at Rwandan markets. I worshipped with Rwandan people. And then I left.
I think about Rwanda often and feel a little confused. I am not trying to be dramatic, but I really do. I came back to the United States on June 3rd, and everything went back to normal. I did not cry about my trip, or have a hard time reconnecting to my friends, I did not become overwhelmed by the daily abundance we experience here in the United States. I’m not even sure that I was all that jet-lagged.
So, I think this “confusion” comes in part from the smoothness of my transition. I know that many people have a rocky transition, but I did not. I hope this doesn’t make me a bad person. But, I think I just forgot. I am embarrassed by how easily I forgot the richness of dancing in the rain, or holding their hands, or watching them smile.
So, when I framed the picture of me with six Rwandan boys that you see above, it felt funny. It felt funny because I am distant now, and it would be silly for me to think that I fostered a deep and meaningful connection when really we just shared a meal one afternoon in late May. But, I framed it anyways, because I want to remember.
And I believe that the experience was rich enough, deep enough, pure enough, that it will continue to bear fruit, even though I am far from it.