Memories Help Make Us Whole!

It isn’t a secret that my greatest fear is getting dementia like my Mom. That fear is the reason I cram as many memories into my days as I possibly can, and then I pray that my brain can store them all when I want to remember them. It wasn’t an accident that Tim and I named our RV Memory Maker and it was our dream to make a lifetime of memories together. Making memories became a priority because even as a young adult I recognized that my memory didn’t seem to be as sharp as others my age. Of course I remember where I grew up and went to school, church and places I visited. BUT my memories of people, particularly people I grew up with, teachers I had and years that some events occurred are very fuzzy. Why do I remember events, but not necessarily the people I experienced them with?

In January I began a journey of “Learning Loretta” (specifically who I am without Tim). As part of that journey I signed up for two classes, a Spiritual Writing course that required us to make “Art Dates” with ourselves and a class on “Becoming Holy Whole”. I’ve stuck with the art dates even after the class ended and love making time to see as much art and nature as I can. The “Holy Whole” class concerned me a little because the text used in the class written by Professor Timothy Sedgwick focuses a lot on memory.

Professor Sedgwick writes “Consciousness of one moment in time does not exist apart from memory of the past and expectations for the future. Through language, the present is experienced in light of the past, and as enlightening the future. And so it is in the experience of the holy. The holy points to an experience of a moment in time that makes sense only in terms of what happened before and after the moment.”

As I’ve worked my way through Professor Sedgwick’s book, that quote and several others have stuck with me. I’m examining how the present, past and future connect and disconnect in my life. Yesterday evening I was to attend a baby shower in Calvert County, MD about an hour from my house. The weather was supposed to be beautiful so I decided to include an “art date” and visit Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center only 3 miles from where the baby shower would be held. I planned to spend the entire day there so I packed a lunch, put on my walking shoes and set out. The six hours I spent inside the gardens made me feel both Holy and Whole.

The sculptures in the garden were stunning! I went to each, sat on the benches around them and reflected on each one. Several of them were Holy in my opinion.  The sculptures had names, but I renamed some of them based on how I connected with or disconnected from each of them based on my past and what I believe will be my future.



I took notes on several of the sculptures and my reactions to them! Some I went back to several times. I sat in chairs that overlooked the water and ate my lunch as the birds chirped. I also sat in a garden of sculptures of women and colored in my coloring book as I reflected on them. The tall stones with benches in a circle became my church setting and I prayed and reflected on Lent and felt God’s presence. I also felt God’s presence in the sculptures that were IN the trees that had sculptured faces. They were amazing!

Memory3          Yet the thing that impacted my day the most was an actual “experience in memory”. It was exactly what I believe Professor Sedgwick is getting at in his book. The sculpture was called the “Surveyor’s Map”. The artist built a huge “boardwalk” that twisted and turned through the woods and encouraged visitors to make their own memories as they walked through it. It also included inscriptions from Calvert County residents that the artist KNEW would fade over time just as our memories do. WOW!! Each time I walked through it, I discovered something new, like the sculpture with its hands up and mouth open!

Memory5When it was time for me to leave the gardens and head to the baby shower, I felt whole. I had seen and experienced art that became important memories for my present, recalled some memories of other sculptures I’d seen in the past (that I’d forgotten) and allowed me to disconnect from XM radio, email and social media for six hours. I only used my phone to take photos – YET I didn’t feel disconnected at all because I felt connected with myself, God and Nature which was my primary goal for Lent. I’d say, Mission Accomplished!


4 thoughts on “Memories Help Make Us Whole!

  1. Dear Loretta,

    Thank you for another Sunday morning meditation that always brings me close to your gentle, seeking, generous spirit. I love your account of your day yesterday and the thoughts and feelings you experienced in nature and in response to the art you encountered at the Annmarie Gardens and Art Center. I admire that you are intentional in your explorations, that you are focused on learning who you are now that Tim is no longer concretely by your side in this life, and that you live with such deep awareness of the sacredness in ordinary experience, with such keen appreciation for how memory builds and changes us over time. That you share your responses about these things with others like me is a gift for which I can’t thank you enough.

    Chances are I will never visit the Annmarie Gardens, but I feel I have been there, and now I know that it is a special, set-apart place where the Holy can become Whole when entered and experienced with a loving heart and open mind like yours.

    With much gratitude and love,


    • Karen!!!

      Thank you sooooo much!!! I didn’t post some of the sculptures in the women’s gardens because I’m thinking about doing a women’s Caregiver retreat there and one of the sculptures is called Rest! I’ll email it to you.

      When I take a class I pour my heart and soul into it, taking the lessons and making them my own….I’m glad you can feel that and that you’re getting to know me better through my words!!!

      Me & JOY are gonna have to make a trip up your way!!!!

      Much love to you my sister!!


  2. Loretta, your experience reminds me (ah, talk about having a memory-flash!) of a class a group of us taught/facilitated back in the day at St. Mark’s, Capitol Hill – Holey, Wholly, Holy. It’s functional/experiential premise was to examine how we, each and all, discern the holes in our souls (those vacuous spaces of broken expectations, shattered dreams) in our attempts to become (and to continue to become) wholly, that is, completely ourselves and in relation to the Divine.

    And thanks for sharing your experience of the AnnMarie Sculpture Garden. I know it well. Stacey Hann-Ruff, Dee Hahn Rollins’ daughter, is the director.

    Love you and, as always, carry on!

    • Paul,

      Thank you so much!! Wow!! I had no idea of that functional education class!!! That’s so cool!! I knew I wasn’t the only one trying to become Whole and Holy!!

      Didn’t know about Dee Rollins daughter being the Director of Annmarie Sculpture Gardens either. It’s such an awesome place! It has been on my list to visit there for forever, but thankfully my intentionality this year is so much better!! I’m just Crossing stuff off my to-do list and in the process becoming a better person and more Holy too!! I can’t tell you how good I feel about myself because I’m growing every day!

      Much love!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s