Looking forward to the past

Deaconess Jacqueline Thomson
Deaconess Jacqueline Thomson
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The Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley sang: “In this bright future you can’t forget your past.”

As many young people have now left school preparing to start at another school, or are journeying off to a pursue a career of their choice, remembering past times with school friends can be very meaningful.

Yet many of us carry some memories of these days that we would rather forget.

The digital age has made this increasingly difficult, however, as many of us are part of a community of people whose life is shared in photos, videos and status updates, where all our daily actions live on in a very open and public way.

One positive side effect of this is we do receive good news instantly and, recently, I was privileged to see the picture of a precious baby girl born only a few hours after her birth.

On another day and with the means of the same technology came an image of myself from some bygone school year, when I was caught on camera with school friends fishing down at the River Leven.

I was seven years of age (I think!) and dressed wearing black welly boots, cotton shorts and a well-washed jumper.

Bemused at this image of myself that had been obviously captured from an old photograph, I pondered about the serious issue of how the actions of everyone in our world can now be stored and sent around the globe, and how, as it was in my case, most certainly cause us embarrassment.

Of course, it would be good to make a fresh start and blot out times in our life when we made a wrong decision, whether it was in what we wore to go fishing or even what silly action we took on any other day in our life.

In the book of Jeremiah, God says his people are like clay in the hands of a potter. They are always in the process of being shaped on a potter’s wheel.

A pot may completely fall apart but the potter takes that mis-shapen clay, starts again and creates a better pot on the wheel.

It’s a well-worn analogy, yet I believe it is important to remind ourselves of it today, while acknowledging our actions can be broadcasted instantly or stored in some way to be pulled out later to embarrass us. As it is in these moments that God can use to form and reshape us.

The past can now never be erased from technology or indeed from our memories, but it does not need to define our future.

As Mother Teresa once said: “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. So let us begin.”