Remembering and forgetting ...

Church Notes by Doug BeattieTerritorial envoy for the Salvation Army)TAKING part in the Civic Service of Remembrance at Lowestoft War Memorial on Sunday was, as ever, a moving experience.

Church Notes by Doug Beattie

Territorial envoy for the Salvation Army)

TAKING part in the Civic Service of Remembrance at Lowestoft War Memorial on Sunday was, as ever, a moving experience. During the event my mind wondered about the grandfather I never knew.

I can remember the sacrifice his loss of life at Ypres in 1917 represents but I can't remember him because I never knew him.

As I write this column I am listening to loud bangs and witnessing fireworks exploding as the nation remembers Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot of 1605.

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The gift of memory is a wonderful thing. We can use it to remind us of happy times, holidays, events, achievements all of which can be a positive and therapeutic exercise.

Even remembering aspects of the 17th century plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament can, in this day and age, be a uniting community experience although originally the plot would most certainly have been anything but unifying.

There are occasions, however, when it really is best to forget, particularly when the need for forgiveness is present.

To harbour memories that are painful, especially where the original hurt experienced still exists, is not an ideal place to be. Alexander Pope, in his 'Essay on Criticism', said this: 'To err is human, to forgive is divine.'

Certainly, the act of forgiveness can bring liberating feelings which can be just as therapeutic as those pleasant memories I mentioned earlier. Conversely harbouring grudges and grievances can bring negative feelings which limit and shackle our thinking and just as forgiveness brings freedom so non-forgiveness brings imprisonment of mind and spiritual progress.

Now, however misguided Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were in 1605, I don't imagine for one minute that his actions are commemorated today out of feelings of condemnation and non-forgiveness.

Far from it, it gives us an excuse to party and enjoy fireworks, food and fun. It's almost as if we have forgiven Guy Fawkes and are free to enjoy remembering his story. As we remember and benefit from our memories let us also learn to forget and benefit likewise from the divine nature of forgiveness.