Here and Now: Remember

​There is much more in the Old Testament that can help us live in the present moment, but we must move on if this series is to be contained within our yearlong time frame.  One final look at here-and-now living in the Old Testament comes to us through the word ‘remember’–a word (zākar) that occurs 235 times in the Hebrew Scriptures.

It includes the customary notion of mental recollection, but it points us to something more–something we see when we write it this way: re-member.  Re-membering in this larger sense is what we often mean when we use the word ‘recollection.’  Remembering is re-collecting ourselves from the many other “locations” our minds take us (what Buddhists call “the monkey mind”) and return us to full presence here and now.  

The opposite of this remembering is forgetfulness–more than the loss of memory, but rather always being attentive to somewhere and sometime other than where we actually are.  Thich Nhat Hanh describes it as drinking a cup of tea, but thinking about something else….sitting with someone, but thinking about someone else…being somewhere, but thinking about the past or the future. [1]  Jesus called it being “troubled”–a condition of distraction that can move us into fear.  We refer to it as being preoccupied.

Metaphorically, it is being “away from home,” because the present moment is our only home–the only time when life “is.”  So, the Bible exhorts us to live here and now when it tells us to remember.  Remembering is the focusing of our attention in the present moment, so that we can have eyes to see and ears to hear (Mark 8:18) what is going on–and having become attentive, then to enter into life with insight and compassion.

[1] Melvin McLeod, ed., ‘The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh (Shambala, 2012), 42.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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