A few pages, written scrawled and excitedly fast, chronicle my first few dates with a boy named John, fellow English major, drummer, and ROTC cadet. Heady spring days spun out on lined pages between hard covers. Stacks of soft-worn envelopes hold letters of courtship, while he did pushups by the dozens at Fort Bragg and learned to jump out of airplanes, and I worked on campus and wrote volumes back. Beneath shiny cellophane our impossibly young faces smile back at us, mess blues and ivory lace, flowers and promises. Over time, paper and ink and photos that have become incalculably precious.
As we’ve already pondered in this month of belovedness, the past can hold pain that seems a river between us and our beloved identity, between us and the forgiveness and hope we long to step into. But keeping a record of our days and years can also enrich the present. As we photograph, write, film and make, we can tell the story of our belovedness, In harder times, those journals and albums and objects can remind us of the extraordinary belovedness inherent in our lives, that is too easily swept away and forgotten by the relentless pace of passing time.
I used to be a scrapbooker. I carefully selected paper and stickers to go with my photos, and filled baby books for my boys, recording their early days with zeal and love. But then something happened.
I fell in love with photography. At first glance, this love would seem to enhance that scrapbooker craft. But reality is that I discovered my passion and my limited time, energy and money went in that direction. To put it in the language of this October, photography is a way I creatively live out my belovedness. Scrapbooking was a hobby I could do, but it quickly fell by the wayside.
Still, it is undeniable that I take lots of pictures and I want a meaningful way to use them to chronicle my family life. These days, I’m using Project Life, a memory-keeping system by Becky Higgins. I’ve taken a photo and written a few words about it on a small journaling card nearly every day this year. It can take as little as five minutes. I am loving the result — a patchwork of the lovely ordinary, the hard and the lighthearted. There are Lego creations and recipe disasters, last day of school grins and crutches and sick days. Hikes and craft projects and birthday cakes and daily bread. Altogether in images and a few words, it is a tapestry of the belovedness that is this life, festive and familiar.
This is my primary way of recording the beloved life. But there are many methods to planting a morsel of the present to feed the future. Journaling in any form can keep a personal record of both our thought and spiritual lives as well as day to day events. Creative forms of writing can both chronicle life and help us process it in verse or paragraph.
Sewers and quilters can turn outgrown garments into warmth and beauty and memory, as the coming home from the hospital dress or even a beloved old T-shirt becomes a patch or piece of something new. A gardener plants trees and roses to commemorate life events and can revisit the memory as she tends them.
How can you keep a record of your beloved life? In doing so, your present, be it blessing or struggle, can become future encouragement.
I am not being compensated in any way for my mention of Project Life. I am just an enthusiastic memory keeper
who is thankful to have found a simple system that works so well for me to record my beloved life. MK