“He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” – Psalm 78:5-6
“I wish I could just have one more day with Mother,” my wife yearned during a brief wistful moment. “I’d love to stand in her kitchen once more while she was baking pies, chatting with her about pie crusts, cream fillings, and meringues. There are a million questions I would like to ask her, not just about baking but about being a mother, grandmother, and about life.” Don’t we all long for just one more day with our parents, grandparents, or some other elder or mentor who we have lost? It’s natural I suppose. But we should not allow those melancholy moments to pass without recognizing them as instructive; for that desire for one more conversation should serve as a reminder of our own duty to pass along the wisdom we have acquired.
Psalm 78 beautifully and poetically retells the history of the Jewish nation from the time of slavery in Egypt to David’s reign, but not without the psalm writer first insisting that his readers must tell these stories over and over to the future generations so that these lessons about the relationship between God and His people not be forgotten.
In a New York Times article published several months ago titled “The Stories That Bind Us” , columnist Bruce Feiler claims that based on a great deal of research “[the] single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative.” That is to say, tell the family stories over and over to the next generations just as the psalmist insisted. “The bottom line,” Feiler concludes, “if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family’s positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come.”
My wife yearned for just one more day with her mother and I understand why; “. . . so the next generation would know, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” Rich in wisdom, our families’ stories are like gold.