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Columns

June 23, 2012

Knowing God and memory

There she was, Naomi, teeny-tiny and sleeping peacefully in the baby carriage. Her parents are our friends, so of course, my husband and I went to meet Naomi. I stood there looking at the newborn and smiling. A flood of memories bombarded me. Naomi is adorable, no doubt about that, and a good baby, I can see that too; however, my mind became discombobulated. Surely our daughters were never that small.

Memory has it that our children were at least three times that size at birth. "Naomi was born weighing 6 pounds and 3 ounces," said new mommy, Thanya. My brain did a minor calculation and realized that was only a few ounces less than our second daughter.

OK, I know memory is malleable, but it's only been about 25 years. Can I already forget that our children were small?

The picture I have wallpapered on my memory is of independent, strong and on-the-go kids. I can barely keep up with them. Moreover, I am pretty sure they were born that way. Maybe, if I dig into the depths of my memory archives, I can vaguely remember sitting somewhere quietly and breastfeeding them, because I advocate of nursing; however, even that memory includes a motorcycle or snowboard revving or swishing nearby.

The power to remember is our memory. This is a power we don't want to lose. Scientists are realizing that memory can be exercised or kept in shape. So, we are encouraged to read and do crossword puzzles. I can read. But, I can't do crossword puzzles, unless the clue is really clear, like: spell c-a-t.

Anyway, for the very reason pliable memories are a fact, I read Scripture with healthy skepticism. Whether we want to admit it or not, Scripture is being filtered by our "power to remember." We use our memory to read, or listen. This is why the same verse can mean different things at different times, or why the Bible is interpreted differently between people. What we are learning is affected by past activities and experiences _ by our memories.

Memories are morphing constantly. Normally, I try to forget the junk and remember the good times. Sometimes, when I am grumpy, I recall only the bad and forget the good. There are the times when a selective memory kicks in. For example, I can remember to eat a snack but not take out the garbage.

When it comes to my spiritual search for a healthy memory, I come across statements in the Bible about God remembering characters such as Noah, Abraham, or Rachel (Genesis 8:1, 19:29, 30:22). It's real nice to learn God remembered Noah and saved him from floating indefinitely in the ark after the flood; or that God remembered Abraham, and saved his beloved nephew Lot; or remembered Rachel, who then conceived a child and was no longer barren.

I can remember this nice God when I feel flooded with problems, or our kids are not with us, or when I am feeling unproductive. It gives me hope to think God will remember and help me. But, reading more in the Bible, I find even a better picture of God; a God who forgets wrongdoings. "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:34)

But, so as not to delude myself, I must read the Bible further, because any thinking person with an ounce of memory knows it is ridiculous to assume there is a God who lets us get away with hurting ourself or others while he remembers us in time of need.

Interestingly, the whole concept of memory and God can enlarge into a conscious powerful knowing. From Jeremiah, "No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord."

I take this to mean that God is more than a mind that remembers or forgets but a mind that knows. Mind, God, knows only that which is good, otherwise to know lack would imply forgetting plenty. This logic is supported in divine Science, or Christian Science. And, because God isn't lost, no faculty of mind is lost, including memory. The logic gives me the credible ability to affirm that I do not have to lose my memory. I can remember that I know a spiritual God and I know myself, my children, and others, as God's image. This is a good starting point to remembering what I need to know during the day. And, I do know Naomi is bringing her parents an ocean of joy.

Cheryl Petersen is author of "21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." She writes on Christian Science from Delhi.

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