Writers and Editors (Pat McNees's blog)
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Entering the room called "Remember"

May 16, 2009

Tags: memoir

A funny thing is happening to the men and women who take my Life Stories and Legacy Writing course at the Writer's Center in Bethesda--especially those who keep writing and reading their stories aloud to each other in sessions I hold for the "graduates." Although we don't really "critique" each other, except perhaps to say we could have used a little more of Uncle Willie and a little less of Aunt Lydia, everyone is getting better at storytelling, partly because they're going deeper, more honestly, into their memories. There is something energizing about being expected to write a story and then reading it aloud to a group that is listening with empathy--a group that is getting to know you because you've been sharing stories about your lives together. Apart from anything else that happens, this is a wonderful way to get to know people!

I think the following quotation captures some of what happens:

"So much happens to us all over the years. So much has happened within us and through us. We are to take time to remember what we can about it and what we dare. That's what taking the time to enter the room (called "Remember") means, I think. It means taking time to remember on purpose. It means not picking up a book for once or turning on the radio, but letting the mind journey gravely, deliberately, back through the years that have gone by but are not gone. It means a deeper, slower kind of remembering; it means remembering as a searching and finding. The room is there for all of us to enter if we choose."
~~ Frederick Buechner, “A Room Called Remember” from the book Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons

Thanks to Dhyan Atkinson for the quotation.