............I have been thinking about memory, and about remembering.

Team Rector’s Letter                                   November 2019



Over the last few days, I have begun preparations for our church services for November, the Memorial Services where we remember loved ones who have died, and the Remembrance Services where we honour the memory of those who have lost their lives as the result of armed conflicts.


And so, I have been thinking about memory, and about remembering.


There are many different types of ‘memory’. We can learn to do certain tasks, such as speaking a language, riding a bike, or playing a musical instrument, and generally speaking, we will remember how to do these things forever. As we begin to be more experienced in performing those tasks, it becomes possible to unconsciously repeat them. Maybe you can think of a time when you have driven some considerable distance quite safely, but without actually being aware of the process of driving your car!


Other types of memories require something the experts call intentional recall. This means that we need to think about these things to remember them, things like our first teacher’s name or the way to make a favourite recipe. And there are also not such nice memories, things that we maybe would rather not bring back to our minds, but which stays there stubbornly, like the time a big ginger-headed boy called Paul pushed me over in the infants school playground!


Some of us will have reached that age when those childhood and early memories are sharp and vivid, but we can’t remember where we left our glasses! We might joke about ‘senior moments’ and about our lack of ability to remember which does seem to be feature of advancing years. Some measure of forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. As we get older, changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. As a result, some people may notice that it takes longer to learn new things, they don't remember information as well as they did, or they lose things - like their glasses! These usually are signs of mild forgetfulness, not serious memory problems, like Alzheimer's disease, which can be quite devastating.


Joyce, the mother of a close friend developed this cruel condition. My friend was hugely distressed when Joyce had deteriorated to the point that she did not even recognise him, her only and much-loved son. He continued to ensure that she was well-cared for in every way, and visited frequently but this emotional distance broke his heart. That is, until a wise nurse explained that it was all to do with perception. She explained that he had aged over the years, as we all do!  He no longer looked the same as he had done when he was a young man.  And because of Joyce’s condition, it was as a very much younger man that she remembered him.  ‘If you could walk into her room, looking as you did when you were twenty’ said the nurse, ‘she would remember you, she has not forgotten that.’ Those wise and gentle words helped my friend tremendously, and reminded him that he was still the same much-loved son that he had always been.


So in this season of remembering, as we hold before God those we love and who are no longer with us, and those who have lost their lives in armed conflicts, let us remember also those for whom remembering is difficult, those for whom memories are full of pain, and also those whose memories are blurred and misted because of ill health or age.


In all these things, God hold us. He does not forget us.


Reverend Ren Harding (Team Rector)

contact me at Joydens Wood Vicarage,

6 Tile Kiln Lane, Joydens Wood, Bexley, DA5 2BB        

01322-528923                            renharding@hotmail.co.uk

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