It should have been a disaster. We’d driven so far, spent so much money on this mini-vacation, the list of fun activities (hiking, lighthouses, waterfalls) all outdoors. But it was so, so wet. Rain — the fat kind, the drip-down-your-collar kind — and fog — a thick wooly blanket that hid everything — conspired against us. Welcome to Maine.
And yet my memories of that day are some of my most cherished. Have you ever smelled a wet collie? Have you hiked two miles uphill for a view of the inside of a cloud? Totally worth it. We laughed until our cheeks hurt. We got thoroughly stinky and soaked and then ended the day with the world’s best blueberry pie in a cozy diner. It was a day unthwarted by cold front, unspoiled by conflict, unhurried. It was a perfect day.
And aren’t all the best memories like that? It’s the beginning of a thousand stories: It was a disaster. That time we locked the keys in the car. The time you threw up in public. The time she fell in the creek.
All the best friendships sparkle with a dozen funny stories, moments that unexpectedly lodge in our mind and years later have the power to make us weak with laughter. Moments have power. But here’s a little secret: while the memory may have been accidental, the moment, nine times out of ten, was intentional.
It takes intentionality to collect the moments, store them up in the heart. You cannot catch a firefly unless you venture out at dusk with a jar in June. If you want a jarful of memories to forever flutter and blink, you have to go after them.
Life has an ebb and flow that means today’s friends may be halfway across the country tomorrow. Your children will almost certainly fly the nest one day. No one will ever say, Remember that time we didn’t go to the park? Remember that season we barely slowed down for a conversation?
Busyness and crabbiness are the enemy of our souls, of memorable moments, of relationship. There is no way to build a friendship or a family culture of joy and purpose if instead we pursue a million forgettable activities. We have to slow down.
I find it fascinating that one of the most underrated, seemingly outdated prescriptions in the Bible is the commandment to dedicate one day of every seven to rest. A day to be still, to cease striving, to wonder and to worship. A day to hit the pause button on all of the frenzy that so easily consumes us and remember instead what really matters. Why do we buck against rest?
What if this most ancient, Garden of Eden tradition, a weekly holiday, created space in our lives for a lifetime of beautiful moments? What if by recapturing this one commandment we could add 52 memories to our collection this year, turn them into a lantern to light our long nights?
We visited old friends this month, friends who’ve drifted away into new seasons in new states with newly consuming hobbies and difficulties. Just to spend an evening together might have been too much, requiring as it did the clearing of the calendar, the setting aside of other activities. (You have to be bossy with the appointment book or it will most certainly be bossy with you!) But after just a few minutes, the stories came flooding back — remember that time… And in the course of an evening we made new memories — the horrifically bad waiter/the chicken execution story/could it be food poisoning? I marvel at these friendships, surviving arguments and stress, loss and heartbreak, years of new area codes and changing life stages. How have we lasted so long? Why have other relationships gone by the wayside in the same period of time?
I watch our children chatting together. Where will our kids be in five years? In ten? What will they remember of these evenings? My own children teeter on the edge of adulthood, and the twin enemies of busyness and crabbiness threaten to consume our days. Hurry, hurry, hurry! What do you mean you aren’t finished? No, we don’t have time right now!
This week I will slow down. I will choose rest. I will gather the moments.