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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Harvesting memories

It's how you can reap the blessings and lessons of the past

ohn Ames, a third-generation Congregational minister, decides to write a long memory-filled letter to his 7-year-old son. At age 76, this reflective man has been diagnosed with angina pectoris and doesn't have very long to live. He wants to pass on the Christian faith that has given his life so much meaning, the love that has sprung from his second marriage to a serious woman much younger than him, and the forgiveness that has been a challenge to several generations of his family.

One of his most vivid memories is a monthlong journey he took with his father to find his grandfather's grave in Kansas. Harvesting this incident for his son's edification is a spiritual project for Ames. In doing so, he heeds the advice given in Deuteronomy 4:9: "But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of our your life; make them known to your children and your children's children."

God gives us days filled with meaning and overflowing with significance, but forgetfulness comes easy to most of us. The Navajos have a chant: "Remember what you have seen, because everything forgotten returns to the circling winds."


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