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Remembering and forgetting

DOES having a good memory just mean that you can readily learn something by heart and then be able to retain it and repeat it, or that you can immediately recall the details of some past experience with precision? There's another way of defining a good memory, and that's to think of it as the memory of good, the faculty of deciding discriminatingly what's worth remembering and dismissing everything that's trivial or potentially harmful. This isn't a simplistic approach that's blind to what seems to be wrong or that condones it. It's a spiritual perspective that heightens our awareness of what's right and good so that we see more clearly how to resolve current challenges in a healing way instead of just repeating p ast mistakes. Christ Jesus indicated the nature of what's worth remembering when he said, ``If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.'' 1 Prayer is an important factor in enabling us to remember what is worthy, what is expressive of God's goodness, and to let go what has no redeeming value or no purpose in the divine order. And this can be extended to more general situations as well as personal ones, to national confrontations as well as family differences. Through prayer we're prompted to make the right choice, the healing choice, between cherishing a sense of hurt or grievance and remembering the justice and power of God, who is the divine Principle of the universe and man--omnipotent, ever-present Love, the one Mind. Prayer enables us to yield to God's government and to realize that no circumstance can actually be outside the control of divine Love. Man, as the likeness of God, isn't a mortal with an unhappy past or with a chip on his shoulder. He is a spiritual being, beloved of God and satisfied with all the good that God has given him. Appearances may contradict this truth, but through prayer we can help bring it to light. Without prayer we tend to cling to a sense of personal impressions, both good and bad, both individual and collective. But to pin the blame for discord on a place or a person or an incident doesn't truly heal the situation; it may instead help to lay the foundation for prolonging or repeating it. This is true at the time of the occurrence or a long time afterward, whether it affects feelings, fortunes, or physical well-being, whether it takes the form of a private quarrel or an international conflict. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, asks these questions in an article titled ``Love Your Enemies'': ``Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation? ``Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception? What is it that harms you? Can height, or depth, or any other creature separate you from the Love that is omnipresent good,--that blesses infinitely one and all?'' And she continues, ``Simply count your enemy to be that which defiles, defaces, and dethrones the Christ-image that you should reflect.'' 2 During World War II I had an experience that was quite a turning point at the time. One morning after a severe air raid I was at first appalled at the scene of devastation that daylight revealed. Then I thought quickly that I had a choice as to whether I would hold on to this picture of strife and destruction or instead acknowledge and remember God's protection. I had been reading the ninety-first Psalm and other Bible passages, not just to keep myself safe but to try to see all mankind enveloped in God 's protecting care. Our individual history should really represent our recollection of God's goodness to us, reminding us of the strength and wisdom and love and perception that always symbolize the recognition of God's presence with us. Such a view isn't naivet'e or an ignoring of evil. Rather, it's a healing standpoint that acknowledges God's absolute supremacy. If less happy memories try to crowd in, they can serve to show the effect of forgetting this in- separable relationship between God and man, and the renewed expectation of good which remembering that relationship continually brings. 1 Matthew 5:23, 24. 2 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 8.{et

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