“Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God.”
Saturday marked one year since Peter’s diagnosis. As the day approached and the signs and symbols of the season increased all around us, each of us in the Cellucci clan has experienced our own moments of unexpected and overwhelming emotions at various times, especially little Peter. All of the children shared at some point that they just didn’t want to think about the events of last year, and that there were certain things they wouldn’t or couldn’t do. Annie won’t eat tater tots because that’s what we served that night. Katie never wants to see the Grinch again because that was the movie she was watching. I too, was dead set on looking ahead and making this the most Christmasy Christmas ever. Then earlier this week I read ahead to the second reading from Philippians and I was struck by the first two lines of Paul’s letter “rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” Tricia and I decided that we needed to lean in and as a family we needed to stop and remember. We gathered with friends and family for Mass in the morning on Saturday and on a zoom with others who have been praying with us during the afternoon. We ceremoniously smashed a plate with the Grinch’s face on it. We told stories and looked at cards. We still couldn’t do the tator tots, but maybe we will be ready next year. As I helped Peter to bed, he took a big sigh and said, “I made it through.” I congratulated him and asked him how he felt. With a little smile he answered, “I can’t imagine how we will remember next year.”
As I looked through some of the cards and images of the last year later that night, I thought about the power of our memories and how they can haunt us or help us. How they can pull us forward or hold us back. As I reflected on my own life and what made the difference, I came back to Paul’s letter and “rejoicing always in the Lord.” Are we focused on the villains that brought us pain or the heroes that brought us healing? Do we dwell in the prison of our misfortune or delight in the hope and promise of the Lord’s rescue? While we have to remember it all, we can keep certain memories closer to our heart and closer to our deepening understanding of who the Lord is in our lives. Last year, I remember writing a desperate post begging for your prayers, but the memories I keep closest is how you responded then and have continued to respond. It’s something I will never forget and it’s at the top of my reasons for joy and thanks this Gaudete Sunday. Blessings on your Advent stroll down memory lane this year.