34. Exalted in Memory

“Hound of Heaven” Meditations: 34. Exalted in Memory

Isa 52:13c “and shall be exalted.”

Easter Saturday is a strange in-between day. So how do these four words have a relevance in these days of ongoing Pandemic, days that have brought anguish and hope. Anguish came with death or, for us maybe, the threat of death. Hope comes with new days of life being realised through resurrection, and for us through the wonder of vaccines. But for the disciples this was a day when there was no hope, so what were they left with?

When we grieve the loss of a loved one, we exalt them in our memory, we hold them up for the loved one they were, leaving such a gap in life, leaving us to reflect on the regrets for the things we never got round to saying. Sometimes, in our desire to somehow ease the situation, we exalt them by words that really go over the top, that really go beyond the reality of what was. So often on TV when someone has been killed in tragic circumstances, the family appear before the camera making their loved one sound like someone who puts Mother Teressa in the shade! It’s just how we would like to think of them and I suspect we say the words to cover up the guilt we have that we didn’t appreciate them like that when they were with us. So all we can do is eulogize, extolling their memory, exalting them in our family memories. It’s also how we would like the onlooking world to think about us and our family.

No doubt that was how it was with the disciples; on this day, silence, reflection, sorrow, memories, sadness, shame, grief, all the ingredients we all experience at some time or other. This day we wonder, has the ‘Hound’ given up His chase? Today they may not be able to see it, but all in that list will be resolved, soothed, gently dissolved away with the growing awareness of the love that is behind these days. For them, on that day, I’m sure there was no such feeling of love, just confusion, uncertainty, concern, fear. It is difficult to comprehend love in the midst of pain and anguish. But there is a strange paradox in this thinking, because when you seek to exalt someone in your memory it sometimes can only make the guilt and the sorrow and all the rest, much worse. Yes, he was wonderful, what he did was incredible, his love was sometimes almost tangible – do you remember when he reached out and touched that leper before he healed him? But the more we exalt in the memory, the more our own shortcomings have light shed on them. I never told him how much I appreciated him, I never thanked him for loving me. Oh yes, memory exaltation is odd, often unreal, but it is how we cope when hope seems a scarce ingredient, it’s all we have left, this Saturday. 

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