‘Tis the Season to Forget

Most of us can remember a Christmas or a Thanksgiving or a Hanukkah or even a 4th of July long ago that is forever anchored in our mind as the best holiday ever. The right people were there. The conditions were perfect. The right gifts and foods and words were shared.

Those are the memories that bring us to a warm and happy place as we anticipate the holidays ahead.

Unfortunately, for many people, those happy thoughts are violently derailed by intervening events that fracture our anticipation and instill dread in place of joy. The death of a loved one. The serious illness of a friend. Divorce. Financial reversals. Relocation to a new city. Conflict between and among family and friends.

Tragically, for those who face these challenges, the blessed memories stand no chance against the fear we have that we will never be able to recapture the same warmth and happiness. As a result, we try to forget. And worse, we become resolved not to attempt to make new, happy memories. After all, those sacred moments might suffer the fate of the earlier ones. There is simply too much heartbreak at stake to try again.

What we must do this season is forget.

Not the good times, of course. Nor even the bad times, necessarily. Instead we must forget — even if it’s just for a moment — ourselves. For when we really analyze those old, wonderful memories, they are bound tightly to those people who surrounded us and who made them so good.

More importantly, we must remember that it is our presence — our smiles, our laughter, and sometimes even our tears — that make warm memories for others. And in doing that, we celebrate these holidays, these holy days, as honored guests of our King and our Creator.

May you enjoy wonderful holiday memories — both old and new!

Sometimes the Sun

Sometimes the sun, after a day of gray and cold, shines through.

Sometimes the sun, when news is bad and the outlook is bleak, finds a hole in the cloud.

Sometimes the sun, when the forecast offers no hope and we’ve resigned ourselves to the dismal, appears on a distant horizon.

Sometimes the sun isn’t the sun at all, but instead, is the intertwining of souls caught together in something bigger than self.

In these sometimes dark days of violence, war, famine, poverty, and discrimination, stand together and remember . . . sometimes the sun!

One Year of “Only” Memories

I’ve been at that stage of life for a number of years when it seems we are too often saying our last goodbyes to people we love. And we often acquiesce into the rhythm and relationship of “only” memories.

One year ago today, I was in a meeting in Austin when I received a call from my brother, Carl. My dad, Joe Bill Cope, had passed away earlier that morning following months of illness and decline. Although I regretted being hours away, I was happy for him and his eternal victory.

Through the next few days, weeks, months, and now, one year, my mom and my entire family have walked that road of being without. But, I feel certain I can say for all of us that Dad left us with far more than memories.

I don’t just remember his smile, his voice, his words of advice, his hands on his golf club, and his laugh — sometimes at jokes he couldn’t really hear. I can see his smile, hear his voice, his advice still stops me in my tracks and redirects me, I can smell the grass on the fairway and see his ball shoot out (usually skimming the fairway grass), and hear him join us soulfully with his incredible sense of humor.

It’s been a year. But far much more than “only” memories.

Love you, Dad!

There is hope in the very challenge of doing something different. Stepping boldly across the lines that define our comfort zone combines terror and possibilities in a single emotion that will forever change us. — Joey Cope

Joey Cope