By Janet Walgren
Another year has come and gone with all its promise and potential fading into the memories of the past. They are warm and happy memories for the most part. Today is my birthday and I am pleased to announce that I made it to 61! Today a new year greets me. It is full of promise and potential to create dreams to fill my imagination. That is the magic of life; memories are for the past and imagination is for the future. This past year I have gained a new found understanding and appreciation for these twin gifts of memory and imagination.
Not too long ago, Ben wrote about memories. He used phrases like:
“Getting distracted by wistful and nostalgic memories of…”
“I was skimming through… when memories of… started washing through me.”
“With delight I recalled the feel of…”
“It’s the excitement of…”
Then he concluded:
But then I had to wonder, was it really like that? When I was actually in… did I feel that way? I don’t think I did. Sure, there were brief moments of exhilaration scattered here and there, but for the most part… it just felt normal. Not at all the magical experience I’d expected… I think that’s generally how things go. I’m not saying that joy lives solely in the past, or that disillusionment is the order of the day. But the passage of time gives memory a texture and a flavor that simply wasn’t there when the events themselves happened. Nostalgia sugarcoats the past with a bittersweet icing.
My memories have taken on a rose-colored tint. Now, not all memories are nostalgic, of course, but it’s surprising how many are. I look back with fond affection… I’m sure that the feelings I’m ladling out weren’t actually there when I was living it, so they’re not historically accurate, but they are nice. ~Ben Crowder
Two days ago was the beginning of a new year. Today starts the beginning of a new year for me. I love new beginnings, each day a blank slate full of promise waiting for us to fill as we allow our imaginations to soar to new heights.
I love the fact that everyone is endowed with the gift of imagination. Our imagination allows us to be vulnerable while we experience situations vicariously then invent the version of the person that we want to become before we act on our thoughts. We know that vicarious and imagined experiences can have a very real emotional and physical effect on us. Therefore, our imagination will, in part, determine our successes or our failures. I am beginning to understand that our imagination is a far more pertinent and useful tool than I had ever suspected. Could it be that our imaginations are vital to our becoming perfected? It is our imagination that allows us to hope, to dream, to become and to strive to reach our goals. Imagination provides us with the ability to be enlightened, empathetic and charitable. It is food for our feelings.
As I have thought about memories and imagination, I find myself filled with wonder. Could it be that these wonderful twin gifts that God has endowed us with are the gifts that were used by Jesus Christ to accomplish the atonement? We know that through some inexplicable process he experienced all of our pain and suffered for our sins.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit… and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink… Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. ~Doctrine & Covenants 19: 16-19.
Could it be that Christ’s Godly attributes of a perfect memory and a perfect imagination were integral parts of the atonement? Could it be that our own memories and imaginations are vital to our becoming perfected? We know that we are going to be judged for our thoughts which include our memories and the things that we imagine. Therefore, our thoughts, our memories, our imaginations will in part determine our eternal reward or punishment.
Before this year, I had never thought about memory and imagination this way and I have a new found sense of gratitude for these wonderful twin gifts. I am starting to understand that they are two of the tender mercies of the Lord.
In this new year I pray that your memories of years gone by may be sugarcoated enough to heal any broken hearts and your imagination will be strong enough to provide a compass for an exciting future that will lead you safely home to God.
I wish each of you the very best in 2008. Happy New Year!