Ghosts and remembrance

I read Jennifer Pelland’s “Ghosts of New York”  just last week, sampling an anthology called Dark Faith from Apex Publications. Then I discovered that this particular story is free to read on Apex’s site.

It’s a troubling story. I get the impression most of the stories in Dark Faith are troubling–meant to raise questions rather than offer platitudes. But we’ve had so many platitudes and so much rhetoric prompted by September 11, and very little real peace.

I am drawn to peace. I am drawn to comfort. I am drawn to optimism and encouragement.

But I am also acutely aware of the darkness.  The same imagination that can conjure up startling beauty sometimes drifts to awful places.  There’s a reason I read a lot of Poe as a kid.

There’s something else in this story, that I think is worth pondering. The idea that forgetting can be a virtue.

Our American culture preaches “never forget.” It’s seen as a moral failing to forget an injury or attack. How many holidays are framed around the idea of “remembrance”?  But is a tragic and unfair death what those people would want remembered about their time on earth? What’s a better impetus to battle cancer for all we’re worth, the memory of a loved one, bald and emaciated; or the memory of them at their finest moment, and the knowledge that there would be so many more of those finest moments if cancer hadn’t interrupted? Is it really a tribute to keep replaying the coda, instead of the main melody of a person’s life?

And then, I think of Hebrews 8:12, and the promise to “remember your sins no more.”  I think of the ways other people have offended or injured me over the years, and I think that the ability to forget their sins would be a greater blessing to me than it would be to them.

I wish I could forget a lot of things.  There are things I know that don’t make me a better person for knowing them.

But that’s not my call to make. My call is to let the hard things I know push me toward the light, instead of sucking me into the darkness.

Leave a Reply