Abundant Living Vol. XX, Issue 19

“Watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.”  – Deuteronomy 4:9 

Breakfast is quite a ritual at our house.  It hasn’t always been that way, like when we were raising kids trying to get them off to school, with me running out the door before sunrise headed to the office.  Breakfast back then was chaos at best, a catch-as-catch-can affair.  No longer!  In these later years Tee and I have fallen into a routine with breakfast, a ritual, a leisurely time with newspapers (the old-fashioned paper version) spread out on the table, mugs of fresh coffee sitting in front of us, and a healthy menu that never varies consisting of fresh cup-up fruit, yogurt, an orange, oatmeal or cream-of-wheat for me, and granola for Tee.  Same ritual every day.

The one thing I can say about this little daily ritual is that it has done wonders for our short-term memories.  No, I don’t mean to imply that a diet of fruit, yogurt, and oatmeal is some sort of magic formula for preventing dementia; rather, what I mean is that because of the importance of breakfast as a ritual, whenever we go to the store we seldom forget to buy bananas.  But that is what rituals, routines, and other good habits are supposed to do, isn’t it?  They help us remember.  We celebrate birthdays to remind us of the importance of that person’s life.  We celebrate July 4th to remind us of our nation’s independence and the freedoms we have.  We celebrate Memorial Day to remember those who sacrificed their lives to maintain that freedom and independence.

Moses wanted to make sure the Israelites did not forget all God had done in leading them out of Egyptian bondage.  “Watch yourselves closely,” he instructed, “so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live.”  The Passover has been celebrated every year since Moses led his people out of Egypt so that no one would ever forget, and so their children would also learn and never forget, about God’s great miracles – an annual ritual.

“There are two ways of remembering,” says Frederick Buechner.  “One is to make an excursion from the living present back into the dead past. . . The other way is to summon the dead past into the living present.”  And it is the latter form of remembering for which we create rituals, so that we may never let those memories slip from our hearts.

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