As the mother of four young children, I fight with the dissonance I feel between being present for my children and setting aside sufficient space for my adult self. As it often goes, in the midst of nearly every adult conversation I want and need to have, yearn to have, I am interrupted, my thought process aborted in favor of meeting a more pressing need. Often, I’m tempted to remain on the margins of society, the very thought of attempting to participate in the mainstream while managing my children a notion simply too exhausting.
Being forgotten cuts to the heart of my deepest fear. I’m not alone in this. Indeed, communion is the Christian sacrament dedicated to the holy act of remembering. Of course, on the surface, it involves remembering what, for Christians is a crucial tenet of our belief system—the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. But, in digging deeper, I discover that the symbolic act of remembering this very vital piece of Christian history actually has much deeper purposes. Inherent in remembering Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the sacred challenge to remember it in order that we might also remember others.
I was remembered the other day as I sat in the margins. Mandy, our church nursery worker, brought my six-month-old baby upstairs just as we were going forward to receive the elements for communion. I had to go breastfeed her in the parlor. As I sat nourishing my infant in the place I go to be soul-nourished, two of the deacons administering the sacraments came to me after everyone else had been served, offered me the elements, and I was remembered.
How very graphic it appeared to me then, this act of stewardship—remembering and then giving in order to restore life to someone on the margins, to say, “I see you.”
I believe this act of remembering is much deeper and more symbolic, even sacred, than just showing to a meeting on time or remembering my kid’s award assembly. I think it’s deeply connected to our basic human need to be seen. My husband once suggested to me that the opposite of love is not hate. It’s indifference. So ignoring the poor, the marginalized, the old, the young, the disabled, is more insidious and destructive than hate. It tells them they are not worth the dignity of being noticed. And perhaps Jesus most revolutionary acts were those when he remembered the people that society would have rather forgotten—the unclean, the children, the disgraced, the women, the lepers, the adulteresses, the prostitutes and mentally ill and then called his true followers to do likewise.
Thus, I believe whenever we remember those on the margins, we fulfill the purpose and mission that Christ initially came to preach, which, ironically, has very little to do with partisan politics. I believe that every time I purpose to remember someone on the margins of my world I work to make a better world for my girls.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.