Friday, August 1, 2014

Remeber when?

      Every day I receive a message in my email in-box from "Mile High on the Cheap."  It contains a little list of things to do, things to buy, or places to go in the Denver area that are either free or deeply discounted.  This morning's had two items that related to the fact that today is August 1st:  Colorado Day.  Colorado Day (for those of you who are non-Centennial State folks) marks the day that Colorado joined the United States in 1876.  So, Happy Birthday, Colorado!  You're looking good at 138!  Anyway, those two freebies for folks in Colorado are free entry on Monday, the 4th (?) into any of the Colorado State Parks (which, by the way, are marvelous!), as well as free entry (August 1 and 2) into the History Colorado Center in downtown Denver.  Both opportunities are great ways to celebrate Colorado!   Aside from marking Colorado's entry in the Union, however, August is also the month that holds my birthday (No, I'm not as old as Colorado!).  And that started me thinking about holidays of various sorts.
      Colorado Day gets promoted as a way to celebrate everything that is Colorado . . . and that's great!  The idea that folks might spend some time in the History Colorado Center (for FREE!) also suggests that Colorado Day is a day to recall Colorado's past.  And if any of you have been in History Colorado, you know that there's a lot to recall -- both positive and negative.  All of that history has shaped us as a state, and as a people.  Every so often, however, as I walk through the museum, I get a sense that there's more than simply the recounting, or re-depiction, of events.  There is a hint -- although I'd be hard-pressed to point directly at its source -- of what we might become.       I think most of our holidays contain that potential. Many, however, seem to have become little more than opportunities for sales at mattress and furniture stores.  ("Golly!  It's President's Day!  I need a new 'fridge!")  This isn't always the case, certainly.  And there are folks and institutions that regularly buck the trend away from remembering the "reason for the season."  I think particularly of the annual July 4th re-reading of the Declaration of Independence by the hosts and commentators on NPR.  But how often DO we spend a holiday considering what it may call us to BE?        I've recently been re-reading formative stories from the early books of the Hebrew Bible.  So many of them end with the setting up of some kind of memorial of stones in order that the people might remember who/what it was that led them to that point.  But there was more at stake than a simple "Recall what happened".  The implication was that the memorials would also serve to remind the people of their calling, their purpose.  The establishment of rituals and holy days in most religious traditions are meant to be re-formative, to pull us back to our roots, our origins.
       Returning to our origins or history, whether in Colorado or congregations, doesn't necessarily mean, however, that we are meant to "re-create the old days".  "Remember when?" doesn't imply "Let's return."  On my birthday, I may recall the day I got my driver's license, but it certainly doesn't mean I want to be sixteen again!  On the contrary, it signifies a new level of freedom I attained, but also a greater level of responsibility.  So, Coloradans, Happy Birthday!  What can we become based on where we've been?  So, too, Christians/Muslims/HIndus/Jews/Buddhists/Wiccans . . . what can we become based on where we've been?


Chaplain Gary

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