Disneyland! Niagara Falls! Tokyo! Paris! Dallas! Machu Piccu! Sydney! Kilmanjaro! Stonehenge! NYC! Souvenirs remind us, and declare to others, where we’ve been. T-shirts, knickknacks, photos, post cards, and more call us to remember places we’ve visited, or even lived. There are apps that allow you to tag, city by city, all the places you’ve ever been (if you can remember them all). Metropolises to tiny hamlets, all can be recorded and seen by anyone else with the app.
Most of the time, when we think of souvenirs, we think of pleasant memories and planned visits. But there is another kind of souvenir–scars, traumas, sickness, crime– that can taint our memory of a place. It’s one thing for my husband and I to visit battlefields from the American Revolution or the American Civil War– it is quite another for a veteran to visit a battlefield where he took a shell to the stomach and had to be carried out still under enemy fire, or for someone to return to a war-torn village they once called home.
As humans, we can only be in one geographic location at any one time. We can watch live footage of events around the world, but we cannot participate in or experience them in the same way. But there is one way we can “be there” from miles away, any time. We can pray. I can pray for people I’ve never met; I can pray for many people at once. And I can feel the power of others’ prayers even when I am otherwise alone.
More importantly, we can be reassured that God is ALWAYS there–He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He needs no jet or GPS, no visa or key, to reach us wherever we are. And he needs no souvenirs to remind Him of His visits with us, or of the beauty (or disaster) in which we live.
I love looking at souvenirs, but far more, I love the memories that can’t be captured by a keyring, or a T-shirt, or a small statuette. I love the memories of smiles, and warm hugs, meals shared, and tears spilled. And I love the stories that remind me that even if I’ve never set foot in a particular village or city, through prayer, I was There!
Where will you go today?