On a night when I feel less than remembered, when I feel despair and the familiar pangs of depression, the memories of him I’d left behind –
He asks me – reminds me –
“Think of all the ways that I have remembered you.”
I get out of the rowded room, the loud voices blending together into a sound that churns my stomach. I slip out into the darkness, finding a chair and sitting down. I want to cry. Is it the echoing of God’s question that brims my eyes with tears? Is it my shame at losing sight of the truth that He always remembers?
The cicadas and crickets sing songs to me. A dog barks in the distance. Lights of San Salvador flicker below me in the valley.
Today we wandered places where lives were taken. Murdered. Massacred. Horrors, I am sure, so many did not think they would live through. Did they expect to lose their lives that day at Romero’s funeral? Or when one government challenged another? Did they think, in that moment, that God had forgotten them? Or that He had remembered them?
Did they echo the question I echo so often,
God – do you remember me?
We walked through a church unlike any other I had seen before. Long and high, the building arched across with stained glass stretching along the walls and roof. Slits of glass letting in a rainbow of colours. It was a sea of yellows and blues and greens and reds and purples – dancing shadows across the building. We were told the colours symbolize God’s love – His remembering. God’s love, dancing in colours across the floor, the floor where blood was shed and bullet holes still remain in the door.
Did those colours in that moment remind them that they were Remembered? Or did their questions alongside the bullets echo in the sanctuary?
I have not watched someone die, nor heard the sound of gunshots fill the air. I have only suffered my own loss and heartache that pales in comparison.
And yet, even with stories so different, I wonder if our questions are similar.
“Do you remember?”
I flip through the stained Bible, with odds and ends tucked in pages, ink long since faded through the thin pages. I find the story again. The story of Hannah. I meet her in these pages so often that I can sometimes picture her kneeling, sometimes feel her tears because they are so like my own. A woman who wept bitterly to the Lord for a son – a woman who, years after years, made each trip to the temple, filled that place with her tears, and laid her heart bare to the One who created her.
I see her cry for a son. But what is far louder – is her cry for God to remember her.
To see her. To know her. To speak to her. To grasp her open hands.
God does remember her. He gives her the son she cries out to Him for. But shortly after, she returns the boy to the temple to serve – and I wonder if it’s because the cry of her soul was not just for a son.
Her heart’s cry was for God to remember her. That was the point.
I run my fingers over the words again and again – “And God remembered her.” I am nearly convinced: is the question of wanting God to remember us the big question beneath everything else? In loss? In disappointment? In fear? Brokenness? Our hearts cry out to Him – God, where are you? Do you remember me?
And so I go back to His question, to look for ways in which He has remembered me with love. I list them off:
Quiet time. Cool nights. Luggage that made it. Song of cicadas. Sweet rice and crunchy chicken. Dew drops on leaves. Conor of stained glass dancing on face. Smell of a hundred fires drifting up the hills. The taste of bananas fresh from the branch. Twenty cent washrooms in sight of a full bladder.
And I am reminded:
He remembers. Over and over again, He remembers. He sees. He loves.
God only gives good gifts. I am so quick to forget.
I pray even in their last breaths, their moments, that they felt remembered. They saw Him in the chaos, in the fall of colour as sun slipped through. That they saw Him remembering in the way He protected, the way He saved, in smiles and in tears and last breaths.
I keep finding myself back here, asking. And He just keeps on remembering. Maybe it will be a question I will whisper all through my life. And in the tears and in the smiles, I’ll keep listing the good gifts,