Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)
TITLE: Memory Card Full
By Amy Stanbury
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My living room bookcase cupboard is simply overflowing. It’s crammed with photo albums and free-floating pictures, prints and DVDs. The thick-carded sepia of my mother’s, stacked next to the glossy, sticky prints of people with too big hair and too short shorts. There’s the holographic sheen of a CD glimmering at me between the pages of an, as yet, unfilled album. Mountains of disorderly prints in dog-eared envelopes await the day they will finally be put into an album; (chronologically, with a jaunty caption if they’re really lucky).
Looking back on my life now has the appeal that looking forward once had. The Time-Scales are tipping and although my Eternity is nearer, I’m leaning towards my Past. Place a photograph in front of me from the last 50 years and it will probably show me or one of my ever expanding family smiling, or being forced to. Some smiles are poised and self-conscious and some are caught and laid-bare by camera magic. Here, a holiday snap of my girls eating skyscraper ice creams reveals an unguarded smirk on my husbands face. The subtext makes me laugh out loud.
I hear my mother’s creaky voice in my own complaint, “But where are the people?” as I flip through 197 shots of “Spring” on my son-in-law’s digital camera. All these places we’ve been. I seem to be looking out of a trundling train’s window. These backgrounds are all movement and blurred motion. These are transient places we’ve travelled to and travelled through. Pin-pointing a time or a place seems so difficult to me. My recall like a well-worn map without markers. Granted the scenery in this stack of pictures is beautiful, memorable even, but I find myself longing to get to the “good” ones. Ah. Here’s one. It’s seeing these precious faces and then with them all the remembering that comes. (Oh dear. Now I wish they’d had digital cameras and a delete button when I wore that!)
So many pictures. Boxes full, CD’s full, shelves full, a cupboard full, a heart full.
They’re right. Time is like an endless flowing river. In this fast flow each of these freeze-framed moments is a stepping stone; a firm footing. As I sift through hundreds of prints, holding these memories in my hands connects me to the landmarks and resting places of my heart. I can dip my hands into these waters and fish for the faces I love. I catch a memory of a girl and a beach and the impression they made on each other. It makes me cry, because of love I think, and I’m full of thanks again.
In my Father’s album there are a billion such pictures, taken by a loving Photographer. Pictures of His Beloved. I’m thankful when I look at these images. I begin to see what He sees. The real me emerging, in 3D. Eventually.
I’m thankful too for the pictures that aren’t here. Images of anger and hatred, a year spent in Faithlessness, a scene of pride, jealousy or greed. There’s no photo of each and every failing, no snapshots of sin’s stain, no images of insecurities and no gallery of shame. This album holds no horrors for me. I’m thankful to the Photographer who chose to let these things fall, into the river. These things will be remembered no more. Contrite confession brings faithful forgiveness. These things will have no place in the catalogue of love. I may go on remembering but He will not go on reminding. The whoosh of white water forgiveness can carry these things away. If I will only open my hands and let them go and cling to Him for dear life.
Thank you Father for this overflowing cupboard with stores of pure gold.
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