Buechner: Memory, Eucharist, Jesus
“There are two ways of remembering. One way is to make an excursion from the living present back into the dead past. The old sock remembers how things used to be when you and I were young, Maggie. The faraway look in his eyes is partly the beer and partly that he's really far away.
The other way is to summon the dead past back into the living present. The young widow remembers her husband, and he is there beside her.
When Jesus said, "Do this in remembrance of me," he was not prescribing a periodic slug of nostalgia.” Frederick Buechner, Originally published in Wishful Thinking and later in Beyond Words, Frederick Buechner Quote of the Day, August 1, 2018.
Buechner gives us two ways to remember, going back and bringing memories forward. The going back to past memories can allow us to relive a scene from our lives. Anthony de Mello writes that sometimes that scene was too powerful to experience at the first time. As we relive it, we can participate in it again and again perhaps with a greater sense of its meaning.
Bringing memories forward is like doing active imagination with a friend or someone you deeply loved who has died. You imagine their presence with you. My experience is sometimes you will feel their presence even without trying to imagine it. Buechner believes that when Jesus said, “Do this is remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24) , Jesus is calling us to bring him back into our presence and know and feel his love so that we might go out and do the same for others.
Some believe that Jesus is actually present in the bread and wine at the Eucharist. Others believe that the bread and wine are messengers or symbols reminding us of Jesus’ presence and love in our lives. Either way, the God of love is present.