Remember, don’t forget

How often mothers tell their children to remember their instructions, and follow it up with “don’t forget.” Children tune out the repeated, “Remember to brush your teeth, make your bed, do your homework.” The words go in one ear and out the other.

The annoying refrain jars on little ones who want to have fun, so it is easy to forget. Selective hearing is so apparent, especially when they run out of earshot.

Growing up, the priests in church seemed to like preaching solemnly on death, judgment, heaven, and hell. That could scare us children. God was punitive. My mother, on the other hand, taught us right from wrong by reading the lives of the saints, and singing to us.

I can still hear her sing, “Be careful little hands what you do, be careful little hands what you do. Remember there’s a God above watching over you with love, so be careful little hands what you do.” She proceeded to go through the parts of the body – eyes, ears…

Much later I realized that the melody she sang was the familiar tune, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands.” Her message was that if you did something wrong, you were hurting Jesus, who loves us dearly. Yet, God was loving and forgiving.

Stepping into Spring and the Easter season, I am filled with gratitude for my mother’s wisdom, but more for all that God has done for us. Watching the buds open on the trees, and the tulips and crocuses poke their heads through the moist soil, I remember creation as God’s gift of love.

I am enticed to spend glorious moments in the lap of nature and relish it. I also recall Pierre de Chardin’s words, “Teach me to adore it by seeing you hidden within it.”

Joy erupts when I recall that Jesus died and rose for “moi.” God’s unending love and mercy reach me in many tangible ways. Henri Nouwen said, “Nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life.”

As we shout Alleluias for Christ has risen, the stories of the early Church and the risen Jesus’ encounter with his apostles are so reassuring. Jesus’ promise to them, and us, is to remember, “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mathew 28:20)

What is amazing, is that God never forgets us. Scripture reminds us, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15). What a gift!

John Powell SJ talks of “the remembered goodness of the Lord.” The biblical stories show us that God never forgets his people, his promise, and his mercy. God remembered Noah and his family and rescued them from the flood (Genesis 8:1)

He remembered Hannah’s longing for a child, and rewarded her with a son, who would become one of Israel’s greatest leaders, the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 1:19).

We creatures have selective memory, and forget that Jesus is present in the poor and suffering when we pass a homeless person. Sometimes we forget to spend time in prayer, and miss those graced times, when we allow ourselves to be caught up in life’s merry-go-round.

Not so long ago we moved into another area of the city. Imagine our surprise when the doorbell rang, and there stood our next door, 91 years old neighbor holding a wine bottle in her hand. She had dropped by to welcome us into the neighborhood. She was “God with skin on.” It reminded me of Pope Francis’ words, “Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ.”

While musing about our beginnings, I recall being glued to the TV miniseries Roots, that aired in January 1977. It was based on Alex Haley’s novel about the story of Kunta Kinte a man from Gambia, who was captured and sold into slavery in America. What struck me was that he never forgot his heritage, and neither did his family.

Hopefully, we do not forget our heritage as God’s beloved children.  So many years later, I can hear my mother remind me;

“Money lost, little lost.

Good name lost, lots lost.

but soul lost, all lost”

Viola Athaide, a student of Theology, is actively involved in parish life, leading Bible courses, the Prayer Group, and the Ministry with Maturing Adults.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 09:00h, 19 April Reply

    Thank you Viola!

  • Esther Morris
    Posted at 09:51h, 19 April Reply

    What an amazing and enlightening article. Love it thanks Viola❤️

  • Philip Chircop
    Posted at 11:29h, 19 April Reply

    Indeed it is only in remembering that the awakened one can gently let go of past burdens imposed on others or burdens received from others. The prayer I find myself whispering often: ‘I know you’ve hurt me. I remember. By the grace of God and the grace of Life and Love I release you.”

  • Sue Woollard
    Posted at 11:33h, 19 April Reply

    Oh Viola, if only we could focus on God every minute of every day. I am not there, but it is my intention every morning.

  • Sylvia Lee
    Posted at 12:24h, 19 April Reply

    Thank you, Viola for your generous sharing on your mom’s wisdom, the wonderful quotes from the scriptures and the significant individuals and your valuable personal experiences. God is with us always.
    May the glory of the Risen Lord fill your heart with joy ! Alleluia !

  • Tonis Kilp
    Posted at 15:15h, 19 April Reply

    Thank you for sharing, very nice, I like the words of wisdom

    “Money lost, little lost.

    Good name lost, lots lost.

    but soul lost, all lost”

    We need to take care of our souls or all is lost, take care and many blessings, to you and your loved ones.

  • Maria Lobo
    Posted at 18:39h, 19 April Reply

    Thank you, Viola, for “remembering” & sharing some of the wise sayings you have learned through the years, from childhood until now. I like your article’s title “Remember, don’t forget”………..and the little post-it note picture with the words “Don’t forget to remember!” Above all, I like the reminder that God will “never forget His beloved children.”

  • Jacqui Hubbard
    Posted at 18:57h, 19 April Reply

    I will never forget God’s goodness and presence in my life.
    He is Risen, Alleluia

  • Heather deSouza
    Posted at 20:13h, 19 April Reply

    Enjoyed your article thoroughly. Thank you.

  • Catherine Schwan
    Posted at 07:58h, 20 April Reply

    Viola! Thank you for the joyful reminder that God is ever present in our lives!

  • Howard Jean
    Posted at 18:34h, 20 April Reply

    Just today I joined in my book club discussion of Lisa Genova’s book Remember
    on the science of memory and the art of forgetting. Also so many memories of the fidelity of our Lord in the recent Paschal mystery celebrations. I still remember my own mother’s saying, “no matter what, I’ll always love you.”
    So many reminders of God’s never ending fidelity and love. Thank you for yours, Viola. God’s grace overflows in abundance.

  • Karen Arthurs
    Posted at 20:03h, 20 April Reply

    Nourished in a loving home is God’s gift to every child who receives this love. Your story is hopeful Viola.

  • Mario Coutinho
    Posted at 10:53h, 21 April Reply

    Thanks Viola Beautiful recollections of what you were told by your mother! I do
    try to remember to remember but occasionally forget to remember.
    God Bless,

  • Sylvia M Chin
    Posted at 14:27h, 21 April Reply

    I appreciate your , ” Money lost…..All lost.” So very true, and so ignored!

  • Lorella D'Cruz
    Posted at 08:18h, 25 April Reply

    Your mother sounds just like mine. I too was taught invaluable lessons through little rhyming jingles, lessons that have stayed with me all through life, and which I in turn taught my own children.

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