Wednesday, April 20, 2011


First of all, in the interests of full disclosure (as they say)—I am remembering to write this essay because of a “little reminder” note that I wrote and put into my shirt pocket. I’m very proud of myself that I remembered to find and read the note before I put the shirt into the laundry (after that, only to wonder what I’d written on the wad of pulp that was in the pocket after taking it out of the wash!).

The 18th century literary figure Dr Samuel Johnson once said he thought people needed far less to be taught, and far more simply to be reminded. I heartily concur.

When I was reading Encountering the Mystery by the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (part of my Lenten discipline), I encountered his example of offering Night Prayer for those people he’d encountered during the day. I was so impressed that I immediately resolved to do the same—if only I could remember to lift up those people in my life that day! Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t…

Finally (last week, actually) I had the brilliant idea of putting a small piece of paper into my Breviary at Night Prayer, so I would see it. It has two words on it: “For whom?” It’s my reminder that I want this particular prayer to be a prayer for the folks I’ve had contact with during the day; this works.

We all need “little reminders” during the day to be the kind of disciple we are called to be in the risen Lord. He has actually given us a “huge reminder” of both the call and the promise with the Resurrection. It is the ultimate sacrament of redemption: the outward sign of the interior grace that it makes effective by its very nature. Perhaps that’s why Easter itself is celebrated for eight days, and why the Easter season lasts for fifty days (ten more than Lent).

“Little reminders” can be all sorts of things: another in my Breviary is the sentence “All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.” It’s from Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet In Heaven, but it’s in my Mom’s handwriting, and it was the key to the homily I preached six years ago for her funeral. It will never leave my prayer book—it’s a “little reminder” to me of so much that is important and central to my spiritual life.

What do you want/need to be reminded of? During this Easter season put out “little reminders” so you’ll never forget. We’re not necessarily bad people; we’re just absent- minded sometimes. We need the help (in theology this is known as “actual grace”). Let’s allow ourselves this blessing, and let’s always remember what needs to be recalled. “Little reminders” are really a gift from the Lord!

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