March has been one long waltz down Memory Lane for me; a mashup of relived events generating a roller coaster of emotions. Memories begat other memories, bumping up against each other and spiraling off in a multitude of directions. By this week I was feeling a bit fragmented and frayed by it all.
Then I happened onto a quote.
In a chapter about Celtic Christians and their practices in her book In the Sanctuary of Women, Jan Richardson says that “perhaps the invitation they offer is to see the past as clearly as we can and to draw from it with integrity, not replicating it but rather letting its treasures inspire us as we create new patterns of prayer and worship for our own day and time.” (Emphasis mine). (For more about Jan’s work, click here.)
Curious about what “drawing from the past with integrity” might mean and whether the quote applied to areas of my life beyond spiritual practices, I went to the dictionary.
“Integrity” is defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”; “the state of being whole and undivided”; “the condition of being unified or sound in construction”; and referring to “internal consistency”.
Applying those concepts to the quote, if we “see the past as clearly as we can and draw from it with integrity”, that means looking back with honesty, clarity, and with a focus of/on/toward wholeness.
Wholeness. That word grabbed my heart.
It’s what I’ve been searching for since those two words “brain tumors” shattered my life.
With genealogy as one of my vices – I mean hobbies – I’m used to poking around in the past and understand the importance of knowing as much as possible about the whole story of our lives. But as the quote and its implications sunk in, I realized simply looking back isn’t enough. How we look back matters as well.
This March, my view hasn’t been the clearest.
Looking at things in the narrow, one-dimensional way I was viewing them – out of context and as stand-alone events in isolated slivers of time – I got caught up and distracted by every. little. thing. There were lots of little things. And every one of those mole hills became a mountain that blotted out everything else. The only clear picture I had was of whatever peak happened to be towering in front of me at the time.
The only other thing I noticed were the stretches – they seemed like years, but I know it was only a day or so – where nothing went right. (Don’t even ask about my refrigerator. It’s still not right, and the parts that are supposed to make it right won’t be here until April 17).
But the hope I saw and heard and felt in that quote nudged me to look again, and when I considered that waltz down Memory Lane with as much clarity and honesty as I could muster, I got a completely different picture. I saw grace.
There were, of course, things I could have done differently or better. There always are.
The truth is, I did the best I could, and that is enough.
“My grace is sufficient.” II Corinthians 12:9
Just one more thing: Happy Birthday, Little Red-Haired Girl!