Friday, December 2, 2011

2011.12.11 Fleeting Frail Memory

It occurred to me as I write my memoir that even the facts I know I don’t remember long or well, often doubt altogether. It’s why fragile memory can’t be proven, only explored and experienced with loving care. Then gone.

Here is a quote on memory from Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.  I love it.

"My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time. These memories, which are my life—for we possess nothing but the past—were always with me. Like the pigeons of St. Mark's, they were everywhere, under my feet, singly, in pairs, in little honey-voiced congregations, nodding, strutting, winking, rolling the tender feathers of their necks, perching sometimes, if I stood still, on my shoulder; until, suddenly, the noon gun boomed and in a moment, with a flutter and sweep of wings, the pavement was bare and the whole sky above dark with a tumult of fowl. Thus it was that morning of war-time. "  

I do envy that prose. We'd be blackballed today probably for such a lengthy sentence but it is eloquent.  We who write are all honey-voiced don't you think? 

My favorite Christmas memory of my childhood is my father reading aloud "Twas the Night Before Christmas" as we small three daughters listened in awe and wonder. The story itself held all the enchantment of the Nativity story. It's the story that converts and transforms, not its veracity.

My second favorite or clear memory of Christmas is of my father singing carols in his rich bass voice in church. It was enough just to listen and watch the candles flicker for me to know Love lives no matter what else dies.

The Eucharist is like Waugh's memory pigeons, a glimpse of remembered life, sharply present, beckoning, the past possessed, then, suddenly, swallowed and gone—not forgotten just gone. The Greeks call this phenomenon anamnesis (no amnesia.)

All you can do is say thanks for the memory.

1 comment:

rix thinx said...

Just a lovely piece,for which I thank you for the giving of it. R