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Remember

by the Rev. Buddy Stallings

 

It’s been so long since I have seen all of you; and although this present experience of “seeing” you, of being with you through these words is far from fully satisfying (for me), this process delights me. At the outset, though, I must offer a fair warning: I may just babble. Gretchen, my dog, has been my primary companion all these months, and I must say that I have found her to be an immensely forgiving and generous listener. That is to say for her almost anything goes. She thinks all of my theological insights are brilliant, and, perhaps more importantly, she totally agrees with all my rantings. I can’t expect that of you but won’t complain should you follow her lead.

 

It’s Lent. Lord, have mercy. A huge part of me on Ash Wednesday wanted to scream, “Lent? You’ve got to be kidding me. Like we haven’t had enough Lent since March 2020 to last a lifetime?” And, yet I know that what is true for me is likely true for many of you: one of the truths that has comforted me during this long siege has been the quiet permanence of our church rhythm, lived as differently this year from what we have known as we can imagine.

 

As I began to write this note, which is more intentionally “religious” than anything I’ve written in a while, an encounter in the life of Jesus came to my mind. Scripture tells us that the ‘good thief’, hanging on a nearby cross, implores, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In just a few weeks we shall be reminded of the context of this tender request amidst all the cacophonous horror of Golgatha. I am struck by how non-aspirational his entreaty is, how little, on first hearing, he seems to ask: “Remember me,” he says. “Not get me out of this mess,” not offering a quickly assembled list of sins or excuses, not even a request to be forgiven, just these two simple, life-affirming words: “remember me.”

 

Remembrance. It’s huge; it keeps us—and those we love—alive.

 

In my own grief over the last two years, remembering has not been a trick or a slight of hand to make something unreal seem real. It has been a lifeline, a line, which embodies and gives life to the one not present and, indeed, to me. A moment recalled, sometimes hilarious or tender or even very sad, can be so alive and present that the absence of literally touching and seeing is not just bearable but replete with joy and life.

 

Like almost every other Christian in the world, Lent always directs my thinking to my prayer life. My words about it are utterly boring and trite: “my prayer is not what it should be, it’s scattered, it’s not expansive enough, it’s all about me.” When I start that litany, it would surprise me if Jesus does not feel, as Anne Lamott once suggested he might, “like drinking gin straight out of the cat dish.” Who could blame him? Whine, whine, whine.

 

Amazingly, though, the pandemic has given me a new perspective on intercessory prayer, obviously just one kind of prayer but one with which I usually begin and sometimes end.  The only thing about intercessory prayer about which I am 100% certain is that its practice brings me closer to the persons on whose behalf I am interceding. I have a literal list of those I remember in prayer each morning. I truly don’t know how it works, don’t know how or if God is physically interventional, and frankly suspect not; but oh my Lord, how it comforts ME to remember those on my list and to know that I am on some of theirs. I freely associate about what I hope for them. Sometimes it is as simple as the Buddhist notion, “I hope that he or she lives with ease;” sometimes it is more specific, “I hope this one about whom I care can be as healthy today as possible.” And on and on I go, remembering and hoping.

 

Some have lost the one most loved; some are sick, some feel lost and may be, some are frightfully anxious, many are alone and most are sometimes lonely. God remembers; you remember, I remember.

 

And somehow it makes all the difference in the world.

 


37 thoughts on “Remember”

  1. Dear Buddy, I miss seeing you anymore at church. You do know that you are a priceless church member to me. Many hugs forever….cannot wait to see you at church soon….

  2. Buddy, although it’s been a while through a chaotic and surreal time, in reading your blog I remember your humor, your humble insights, and your deep spiritual way of being. Thanks for sharing, thanks for the memories, and thanks for being Buddy at Calvary and beyond. Peace and love, good man!

  3. Gretchen has been an excellent listener and has inspired you to share wise words with us. Please give her a good ear rub for us. Your words on remembrance bring back memories of my Dad who died a year ago as well as memories of the care of compassion that you shared with us during your time at Calvary. Bless you on your current journey.

    1. Martin, Gretchen particularly your good words! She knows you are a dachshund person! All good wishes.

  4. The joy of remembering. As always, Buddy, you are spot on. Miss you. Love you. Until we meet again, God’s Peace.

    Nancy Manire

      1. Thank you. As always, you gave us the perfect framework for considering a painful part of our lives which might otherwise devolve into various unpleasant emotional rabbit holes. I miss you.

  5. Buddy
    I can’t think of anyone other than Bill Kolb and Bob Watson whose faith and wisdom has given me the peace and faith that I need to carry on. I turned to you when I was lost and felt cared for and understood. Take care of yourself and come see us at Calvary.
    Much love. Ginny

    1. Ginny, much appreciate your comments. So looking forward to being able to be in Memphis again! Peace and all good blessings. Buddy

  6. Buddy that made me tear up. We remember you every time we look at our wedding photos, which is daily. We remember your kind words over us as you married us, and your kind spirit. We miss you, friend.

  7. So beautiful, Buddy. Thank you. I smiled the entire time I was reading along with you and so many in mind. So good to hear from you. With love and light, Laura

  8. This was so wonderful, Buddy! I can hear your kind voice and your great sense of humor in every word.

  9. Sandra and I enjoyed your thoughtful and uplifting repartee, even as we hide away in Pooler, GA. I couldn’t have expressed your sentiments about our present predicament any better. We have enjoyed our occasional visits to Christ Church in Savannah, but we miss your joy and humor. I enjoy gin too much to think of partaking of it from a cat bowl,
    really cringeworthy. Thanks for making us smile. We needed that.

  10. Remembering can be such a gift and a comfort. I thought of many happy (and some sad) times during this last year. It was wonderful to read your writing and imagine that you were saying the words to me. I remember joyfully the time that you were with us at Calvary and how much we all benefitted from your presence. We sure do miss you here in Memphis. Brooks and I send our love to you and your family.

    1. Clay, how wonderful to hear from you guys. Thank you for your kind words. The Calvary community gave so much to me. Best blessings always. Buddy

  11. Dear Buddy, I could hear your tender voice in every word and feel so blessed to know you. I miss you, dear friend and will remember your love and kindness always! Mike joins me in sending you warm affection. XOXOXO

    1. Linda, wonderful to get your loving words. Wishing you all the holiness that this season brings. God’s best blessings to you. Buddy

  12. Hi, Buddy: I so enjoyed your words, and they reminded me how much I love and miss your wisdom and incredible sense of humor! I look forward to seeing and hearing you in person once again. Love, Cathy

    1. Cathy, so appreciate your words. Remembering all of you continued to enrich my life. Hope to see you soon. Best blessings! B

  13. I hadn’t thought of it that way but remembrance is surely comforting, the key to dealing with loss. By remembering, we keep our loved ones alive. I’m glad I took so many photos of my husband. He didn’t mind and they are treasures for me. Moments of humor are comforting. Plus other special moments. He didn’t live his life in vain. He is alive in my memories. Thank you, dear Buddy.

  14. Dear Buddy, I can’t wait to see your smiling face around here. We have missed your gentle humor (always directed at yourself), your thought provoking messages, and you unconditional positive regard and love for all us imperfect beings.

    1. Joan, so appreciate your kind words. My time at Calvary was/is such a great time in my life. Warm wishes for all the blessings of this holy season. Buddy

  15. Hi Buddy!
    You taught me to pray this
    Simple prayer:
    “ Lord: Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Help me, help me, help me..”
    I must pray it zillions of times a day….
    REMEMBERING who taught it to me!
    We miss you at Calvary. Come back soon
    Anne Connell😀

  16. Love your words of remembrance of loved ones . Looking through old pictures of the loved ones who left us to join Heaven s Angels . It makes me feel grateful to bring up fun times as well as challenging times with them Sorrounding myself with pictures and flowers by them to honor my loved ones . I have to nurture the flowers and the memories. Miss you at Calvary 🙏❤️

  17. Miss you so much! Reading your words i hear your voice, so kind with compassion. Bless Gretchen, our pets give us such joy and peace, especially in this trying time. Edwin and I look forward to seeing you again, hopefully soon. God’s peace

  18. Sharon, wonderful to hear from you. Gretchen kept me going through this! Hope to see you soon. Best blessings! B

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