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OUT TO PASTOR: Oh, memory, how I miss Thee

Driving home from a luncheon with friends, The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage asked me a stunning question.

She is a specialist regarding questions I can’t answer. I am trying to evade her questions and have been very good up until now.

“Did that story you told really happen?” she glanced at me with one of her quizzical looks.

To the best of my knowledge, everything I say is true. Of course, people have different views of truth.

“Which story are you referring to, my dear?”

My plan has always been to deflect the attention away from the real question.

“You know. The one about the chicken attacking you.”

Since I told quite a few stories, I couldn’t remember that one exactly. My memory has a problem with really staying focused. I can tell one story one time and tell it again, and it is pretty different. If you heard both, you would know they were the same story.

“Well, my dear, if I told it, it must true because I do not lie except when I go to bed.” But I smiled at her and nodded in a very affirmative way.

She didn’t think that was funny and said so.

“Well,” she said very seriously, “I’ve heard you tell that story at least six times and each time it’s different. What do you have to say about that?”

Looking at her rather soberly, I said, “The only thing I can think of is that they were six different stories.”

That is one of the astounding things about memory. If it’s my memory, I should be able to tell it how I want to. After all, I can’t remember back that far in my life. And, to tell the truth, it may not have happened at all. Who knows?

That is why if I tell any story, it is one before I met The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. All during our marriage, she has been very faithful in correcting the stories I tell while I’m telling them. At least those stories that happened while we were together.

That is the challenge I have just about every day of my life. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage has a flawless memory. Don’t let her know I said this, but I suspect she remembers things that never happened. But with my flawed memory, there’s no way I could correct that.

She knows everything that has ever happened since the day we first met. If only I had half of her memory skills. [Sigh!]

I learned this long ago, so if I tell a story, it was before I met Miss Know-It-All. Then, I can tell it according to my memory, which is somewhat flawed.

One of the blessings of a flawed memory is that I can tell a story that happened way back half a dozen times, and nobody would know it. Most of the time, I don’t know it.

A long time ago, I accepted that I should not try to correct a story whenever she tells it.

Once, and only once, I thought I would agitate her, and as she told a story, I would correct it.

“No, my dear, it wasn’t on a Tuesday, it was on a Friday.”

On and on I went until I could see behind those beautiful eyes of her and growing agitation; that was a warning sign for me to SHUT UP. And UP, I SHUT.

On our way home that time, we had a long discussion. It was not a discussion; it was a monologue of what she thought about me correcting her when she was absolutely right about everything.

Common sense told me not to do that again. I think about it occasionally and can’t help but chuckle. I want to do that one more time just before my funeral.

If I had her impeccable memory, my life would be so dull. I often change the memories that I do remember because nobody would know the difference, and I’m having fun.

Long ago, I stopped telling stories after I met The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage because one slip up there will have a lifetime consequence.

I was sitting in my easy-chair with a hot cup of Joe reflecting on these things. I thought of what Solomon said about memory. “Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. The memory of the just is blessed: but the name of the wicked shall rot” (Proverbs 10:6-7).

Then I was reminded of what Peter said. “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it” (1 Peter 3:10-11).

Memory can be a tricky thing for many, especially me. I’m trying to process Peter’s warning here to “refrain my tongue from evil, and my lips that they speak no guile.” If I’m honest with myself I must be honest with everyone else. Also what Solomon said, “The memory of the just is blessed” is important.


Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone is (352) 216-3025, e-mail is, and website is

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