I bought a package of sticky “Command” hooks in anticipation of hanging some of my photos and certificates on the concrete-block, church study walls. It was a bit of a new experience, and having not used them before, I decided that reading and heeding the directions would be a good thing! I put the sticky strip on the wall, pressing against it for the prescribed 30 seconds, and then attached the hook which would hold the framed pieces, also pressing on it for a count of 30…. and then I let it “set up” overnight – far exceeding the hour that the manufacturer suggested. The next day, satisfied that the requirements had been met for successful installation, and the safety of my mementos, I hung three diplomas from the hooks I’d attached to my wall…. high school, college, and doctorate. When I returned from lunch, the uppermost one had fallen, dinged the two below it, left a mark on the wall, and lay in a pile of pieces on the carpet below (but the glass was intact, mercifully!). My “hook” wasn’t so good, it seemed…. but the other two were still in place…. so I suppose that a failure rate of one-third isn’t so bad, though I’d hoped for 100% success!
As my wife and I have spent a considerable amount of time over the last month unpacking our things into your parsonage – aka, our new home in Poquoson – we have had a great many moments of reflecting on the “hooks” on which so many of our memories are “hung.” They are the “touchstones” that remind us of the stories of when and where we acquired many of our possessions. On those hooks are hung a great many of the moments of our lives, and the “curious” journey we’ve taken together in our 40+ years of marriage and ministry. On one shelf in my church study is a softball, autographed by Watt Jones; he gave it to me to remind me of the day he broke his finger while playing my position in a “pick-up” game at TCC’s Fredrick Campus in the early 1980’s. On another shelf is a clay oil lamp that I bought in Bethany, Israel; not much to look at, but it reminds me of the visit that our group made to the “traditional site” of the home of Jesus’s friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. On another shelf is a small pot that I made in college, and a black conch shell that I found on the beach at Ocracoke Island, and on another there is a clear, acrylic cross, given me by one of the inner city Cub Scout groups I helped in Norfolk a dozen years ago. There’s picture of 94 year old Jean Price, holding a Certificate of Appreciation for her work with Meals on Wheels in Arlington, and one of my extended family in the den at Christmas, more than half a dozen years ago. There’s also a small piece of stainless steel (about 2” square) that my grandfather designed and built into a door lock in the mid-1980’s…. and there’s an array of other items, too. They’re all hooks on which many of my memories hang.
I suspect that you have some of those, too. (Grandma called them “knick-knacks” or “dust catchers,” but they were very important pieces!) In the church, we also have them, though they may look like bread and wine and water and ashes and bulletins and crosses and stained glass. They help us remember – in heart and mind – our identity. We are people of faith, Christian faith in particular, and we carry that with us when we are in the various places of our lives: work, home, the mall, on the highway, everywhere. Let me encourage you not only to acknowledge those “memory hooks,” but also to learn to cherish them – not as holy “in and of themselves,” but as reminders of the greater realities to which they point…. namely, the love of God for us, embodied in Jesus.
Grace and peace,
Jim Earley, Pastor