…that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.
– Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
What triggers your memories? Does a scent evoke recall of times long -past? Or maybe a snatch of music takes you back down the years to events you’d half forgotten.
Unlike my husband, who has almost autobiographical memory , my recall comes mostly through my senses. A whiff of overcooked cabbage- school dinners; the feel of stone flagstones under my feet and I’m eight years old again, in white tunic and slippers, pattering along the corridor on my way to ballet class.
The scent of rosemary alway reminds me of my much-loved Grandmother. I spent much time with her as a teen; she, her house and her beautiful garden were a refuge for me at a time when life at home was less than straightforward. I’d make my way across town at the end of the school week or at the start of the holidays,and ring on the doorbell. There was a large clump of rosemary growing outside the front door, and whilst I waited to be let in, I’d always roll a sprig between my fingers and breathe in its gingery smell. Then with a flurry, a bustle, and much undoing of bolts, Grannie would appear. Come in, come in! you’d hear, even whilst she was still making her way down the hallway. Then out she would flutter, as pleased to see you as if you’d not visited for years, when you’d only been there the previous week!
I’ve written before about another of those Heaven Scent moments. I revisited this memory again this morning on the way to church: a cloudless blue sky, spring sunshine (at last!) and the fresh, distinctively oniony smell from a roadside clump of dew-tipped alium plants, which took me straight back once more to a place where God’s presence once seemed so close to me.
I find it a good time to go back to in prayer, especially at those times when life is more of a struggle.
St Ignatius talked about the importance of revisiting times of consolation, those places where we’ve especially experienced God’s grace. And to savour those times , relive them, and bring something of that sense of knowing and being known back into the present moment. Something I’ll admit I don’t do nearly as much as I should!
Yes, it’s taking Ophelia’s words way out of context, I know, yet pray, love, remember, speak to me so much of a God who lights up the present with a welcoming Come in, come in!