A pensieve is a magical item in the Harry Potter books
which is used by characters to gather and process their
memories, or to remove the burden of excess memories.
Albus Dumbledore says that he uses it to store thoughts
that are weighing on his mind, or to organize memories
which seem to be connected. The ability to enter a vivid
memory also helps to shed light on new information.
I remarked once a few years ago that I thought it would be very convenient to own a pensieve. A few moments later, it struck me that I do.
I have kept a diary or journal sporadically for some forty years. I started with one of the little pink ones with a tiny padlock, with the pages all neatly sectioned out – four or five lines to a day, a full week on a two-page spread, filled for the first few weeks with such entries as “Grandma came to visit” and “Roxanna was mean to me at school again today.” By my teen years I had moved on to simple spiral notebooks or even just loose leaf paper stuck in a folder, and I still write in inexpensive college-ruled notebooks today.
None of the early pink diaries have survived, to my knowledge, although it’s not outside the realm of possibility that my mother still has them in a box somewhere. I do, however, have perhaps a couple hundred pages dating from January 20, 1981 (the topic of which was President Ronald Reagan’s inauguration and the release of hostages in Iran) to today. I leaf back through them from time to time, and of course, they do perform the above-described functions of a pensieve, though in a somewhat less mystical way.
They are collections of memories, some of which I have only begun to process. Many of the entries fit in the category of excess memories or issue weighing on my mind, and both writing them out and revisiting them years later helps to relieve some of their heaviness. I often see recurring themes and connections now that I had no idea of at the time of writing. From the distance of twenty or thirty years, I can sift out – sometimes – what was true and what may have been just projection, and occasionally why I felt as I did. And yes, the ability to re-enter some of my most vivid memories does help to shed light on new information, or to shed new light on old information that I’m still working through.
God’s favor and protection
the acts or words of one who blesses
something promoting or contributing to happiness,
well-being, or prosperity; a boon
approbation, approval, encouragement
sanction or support
special favor, mercy, or benefit
The definitions of a blessing cover a broad range, but it seems to me that whichever way you look at it, a blessing is a gift outright. It comes from somewhere outside ourselves, beyond our reach to grasp. We can’t buy it with money or earn it with merit. We can only receive it open-heartedly, accepting it as pure grace.
Yet in the remarkable economy of God, we are somehow empowered to bestow blessings on others. Though we don’t possess the means to manufacture or ensure a boon for ourselves, we are mysteriously enabled to channel favor, mercy, and encouragement to those around us and to contribute to their happiness and well-being.
Many days of rain,
and more to come. The sun is
now, making occasional
and brief guest appearances.
~ Rebekah Choat
image by Rebekah Choat
Let morning come, slow and wan,
battered by a night of storm;
all the day’s allotted strength spent
by six a.m. yet the day must go on.
Let morning come, weary and wet through.
Let the constant dove keep calling.
Let sparrows and finches congregate
in their accustomed place.
Let the praying Lady remember us,
now and at that hour.
Let be whatever will.
Let morning come.
~ Rebekah Choat
image by Joel Brotzman-Gonzales
As far back as I can hear in my memory, I have known the call of the mourning dove. From the time I was a tiny little girl sitting on the front porch while Grandma did the early-morning watering, to this morning forty-five years later, sitting on the back patio after doing the early-morning watering, that melancholy, infinitely soothing three-note trill has sounded in my ears, as familiar as my own heartbeat and sometimes as unnoticed, and as centering and reassuring when I listen for it. It is perhaps as close as I can imagine the voice of God, murmuring over and over, “I am here, I am here,” here in this world that is bent and broken but never abandoned; swollen with sorrow, swallowed up by joy poignant as grief.
image by Rebekah Choat
Madeleine L’Engle, in Penguins and Golden Calves, defines an icon as “something I can look through and get a wider glimpse of God…saying something that cannot be said in words.”
As I grow older, I’m also growing more mindful of the things that remind me of His presence day to day, here, near me where I live – my personal icons, if you will.
Foremost among these are trees.
The trees of my earliest memories are those in front of Grandma and Grandpa’s house – two massive trunks, strong and steadfast; huge graceful boughs spreading sheltering arms over the whole yard, making a living canopy of dappled light and shade under which my cousins and brother and I could play untroubled by the hot South Texas sun. Although Mama remembers when the house was built and the trees were planted, by the time of my childhood the place was comfortably settled and had, in my small consciousness, the air of that which always had been and always would be.
The home I live in now is a couple hundred miles northeast of Grandma and Grandpa’s old place, and several million miles removed from anything they would ever have imagined in terms of square footage, automation, and what they would call extravagance. But it’s the first place I’ve ever lived that has this air about it, this essence of home. There are seven trees on the lot, anchored by a magnificent oak in the backyard. I sit outside every morning early, airing my mind and soul and soaking in the strength, stability, and solace that seem to emanate from its heart.