• November 6, 2013

What does it mean to remember?

Marisol & her sonDiego

By Jessica Morley, Heart’s Home Alumni from Spokane, WA and from the Heart’s Home Center in San Salvador.

Since my return from El Salvador, I find myself con­tem­plating the word memory. What does it mean to remember? What does it mean to remember what I have lived, those I have lived with, and the encoun­ters with their joy and suf­fering that have shaped my gaze, inviting me deeper to touch the sacred­ness that resides within each one of us?

The first image that comes to mind when I think about my expe­ri­ence is a river of faces – faces full of life and laughter and strength; faces of chil­dren, of mothers, of elderly men, of people of all walks of life living with hope. Then many other images come to mind, more dif­fi­cult to look at, but insep­a­rable from the joyful ones. These are the images of the suf­fering car­ried by these same people, images that come from my simple attempt at being pre­sent at the foot of each person’s unique cross.

On one of my last nights in the neigh­bor­hood, I closed my eyes and imag­ined myself winding through the now-familiar pas­sage­ways sur­rounding our house, my heart stop­ping at each door to see and to listen to the reality within – to see the faces that I have come to cherish, and to reflect on what I know about the story of each one. Of the dozens of doors that I “vis­ited” that night, even those of some of the most joyful people I have ever met, every single one cried out with pain – from excru­ci­ating lone­li­ness, to stark mate­rial poverty, to abuse and gang involve­ment. The reflec­tion over­whelmed me. The reflec­tion faced me with the uni­versal bro­ken­ness pre­sent in each one of our lives.

So, what does it mean for me to remember all of this? What does it mean to con­tinue to carry all of this in my heart? Niña Emilia, a loving grand­mother living along the train track on the margin of the neigh­bor­hood, gifted me with a pre­cious card that I could see she strug­gled to pen with her hands rav­aged by arthritis: “Thank you for caring about me and my grand­daugh­ters. I hope that you don’t forget us.” Then, dear Niña Julia informed me that “God must have forgot to cook you – that’s why your skin looks like milk!” So, lest I make the same mis­take as God and forget to com­plete the work that has begun in me, l pray that the well of memory within my heart may expand, that I can enter into what Fr. Greg Boyle calls “the spa­cious­ness of God’s heart” and con­tin­u­ally re-member myself to that living pulse of love con­necting us all – past, pre­sent, and future. May I remember by living in and from the love given to me as a trea­sure and home.

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