Often in the Psalms, we hear this cry, addressed to God : ˝Do not forget!˝ But isn’t it we ourselves who are lacking in memory? If forgetfulness erodes our lives, remembering boosts us, reviving hope.
translation Louise Thunin
As we run through the Psalms, we often have the unpleasant impression of a numb and deaf God, whose memory fails him, who is a bit senile and amnesiac. He needs to be constantly reminded of his past promises, to be shaken up in order to remember his people and the faithful, to come to their rescue, to open his eyes and ears and to wake up instead of sleeping.
We liberal Christians believe that God needs our hands to act, that it is not up to him to obey our will but up to us to seek his. For us, God is not the subject of this forgetfulness but the object. The cry in this psalm and many others appears then to be a projection of humankind’s forgetting onto a God who, even in silence, never stops remembering. This silence is probably due to our deafness or to our will not to hear, more than to his absence or his forgetting.
Psalms like this one mean to call people back to God, or God back to his people, but in any case, they aim at reviving remembrance, at resuscitating the memory of a liberated past still rich with promise.
We all bear within ouselves a memory selector; even when worn with age, certain events can arise anew with even more force and and presence. In our depths remains a remembrance of the life force, of the love that one day turned our existences around, or whose presence we have simply sensed and which we are accustomed to calling God.
Contrary to the psalmist, we no longer believe that God is going to intervene from outside, dictate to the powers of the world their words and their acts, send wars and peace, success and failure, mishaps and happiness, life and death to the men he governs. The God we think we discern in the Gospel, as in our own experience, does not force, judge, constrain or weigh upon us: this is a God of peace, lightness, forgiveness, who gives of himself in weakness rather than impose himself by force; a God difficult to defend and promote; humans suffer too much from their freedom to need a God who directs them, judges them, dominates and punishes them.
First of all, he is within me, an often hidden presence, repressed, forgotten, who one day burst into my life and lit up my path. Of course, this God is not my personal property. Fortunately, I can discern signs of his presence elsewhere than in myself, a little bit everywhere, in the Gospel, of course, where the words and signs of the man Jesus awaken in my existence a force for life and transformation, but also in history, in nature, in art. Certain writers, musicians, painters, creators have shared with us over the centuries a bit of God’s strength, of that light that breaks through the night. It is up to us to keep their memory safe and thus, in the heart of the world, in the heart of our lives, awaken God, free him from the prisons of forgetfulness where history has enclosed him, where we ourselves keep him captive. This thrust of remembrance is what gives us the necessary perspective to climb the walls of the present and to go farther.
Sometimes the forgetting that our psalm deplores pains us and wears us down. Sometimes we no longer know how to see, believe, feel this life force, these rays of light, either in ourselves or elsewhere. When everything seems closed, when the walls are so high that no hope, no dream even, seems able to rise above them, we can believe that beyond them exists the deep memory of a world where no one and nothing is ever lost, a hidden presence, a gentle love that keeps us, that holds the world and all things mortal in the infinity of its remembrance. And this ever-faithful memory is the hope of the world.
˝But I have trusted in thy steadfast love˝ says the final verse of the psalm.