Sunday, September 7, 2014

Remember, Remember!

This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance. (Exodus 12:14)

From the beginning of human history, celebrations have served at least two important purposes. Some mark the passage of time - from harvest, through the darkest, shortest nights of winter, and back to rebirth and growing - while others help us remember: people, battles, accomplishments, and important events like the time God sent the angel to kill the firstborn of all of Egypt, but spared the Hebrews and allowed their escape.

Verse goes hand in hand with celebrations:

Remember, remember! The fifth of November, The Gunpowder Treason and Plot...

O say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light…

Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King…

But what happens when the verses lose their meaning? What happens when the events we celebrate happened so far in the past that we’re enjoying the party but we’re not exactly sure anymore why we’re having it in the first place?

What happens when the songs are a warning and a call to vigilance instead of celebration? What happens when the warnings fall on deaf ears because the events they warn of happened so far back in the collective memory that no one thinks the danger is actually real? At the beginning of Anne McCaffrey’s book Dragonflight, generations have gone by on Pern since the last Threadfall, the holds have forgotten to follow the ancient laws meant to mitigate the effects of this deadly menace from the sky, and the dragon weyrs that defend the planet are dwindling and unsupported. Even the Harper, the one entrusted with the verses of memory, must dig deep into the archives to find more than just the few snatches that anyone remembers. When another Threadfall is imminent, vague memories are all that stand between those who wish to keep Pern safe and the masses who don’t believe the old tales were ever true in the first place, much less likely to happen again.

Celebrate, but think about what you are celebrating. Sing, but look for the deep truths in the verses. Most importantly, remember, like the Jews still do, even after thousands of years. When we ignore the ancient verses as just a bunch of old words, we do so at our own peril.

No comments:

Post a Comment