Dynamic Woman — Changing Times
Mystic Sweet Communion: When the saints go marching in your psyche
I pulled this quote from the November 1 entry in Listening to your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner.
Memory is more than a looking back to a time that is no longer;
it is a looking out into another kind of time altogether where everything that ever was continues not just to be, but to grow and change with the life that is in it still.
What an amazing thought! I can’t imagine a better playground for a novelist. As we come to see our ancestors in new ways, Buechner says it is as if they also come to understand us–and thus they contribute to our ability to better understand ourselves. We see ourselves through their eyes.
Although she was no saint, I wonder what my progressive-era great grandmother would have to say to me in light of her experiences and mine? This is essentially the theme of my next book. Decisions she made had far reaching effects. Her words and actions helped form the values that were passed down. Her experience was my inheritance.
The communion of saints, Buechner points out, comprises more than this present generation. In some sense we also commune with the ghosts of the past and the pneuma of future generations for whom we hold out hope.
Following that train of thought, it seems that our present selves exist in the context of what was and what is and what is to come. How then might our communication with those who have passed from our purview differ in this present day? Given that they have a new frame of reference, might their voices in our heads change?
A friend sent me a copy of Bettyville, a memoir by George Hodgman. He signed it, To Sydney who had quite a mom. Growing up, my friend and I lamented often to each other about our mothers. But time softens perspectives. We are now the mothers our daughters lament, and so it goes down through the generations.
The generational divide pretty much guarantees that whatever we say to our daughters in our defense will be misinterpreted. And so we stay silent, as did our mothers. That silence breeds misunderstanding. At the same time it safeguards relationships.
Time and perspective work their magic. What we could not speak while our mothers were living we articulate with more grace when they are gone. What we could not hear before, we now receive with grateful hearts.
© Sydney Avey