The Practice of Remembering
Uncovering the Place of Memories in Our Spiritual Life
by Casey Tygrett
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Pub Date 05 Dec 2023 | Archive Date 04 Jan 2024
InterVarsity Press, IVP Formatio
Christianity Today Award of Merit
What if our memories are like shells we gather on a beach?
According to pastor and spiritual director Casey Tygrett, "We—and all those who have come before us—pick up the experience and we sense it: we feel its edges, notice its color, we smell the distinctive character (for shells it is the sickly seafood salt smell) of the experience, and we try to make sense of what it is. Is it beautiful? How would you describe the color—the tones, the shades, wrapped around the ridges and swirls? Has it been damaged? Does the hard edge scrape our hand, leaving a blemish or a mark?"
How we hold and carry these memories—good and bad—is a part of what forms us spiritually. In this way we have a common bond with the people of Scripture who also had a sensory life, gathering shells and trying to make sense of them. Previously titled As I Recall, Casey Tygrett's writing in The Practice of Remembering explores the power of memory and offers biblical texts and practices to guide us in bringing our memories to God for spiritual transformation.
"If you've ever wondered where wonderment comes from, thought about where thoughts are born, or wished you could forget a painful memory, then Casey Tygrett's The Practice of Remembering is a must-read. It is not a how to but a how come book. How is it that we can remember the color of socks we were wearing in an accident a decade ago, yet we can't remember what we had for lunch last hour? How do all these memories we carry with us relate to the life Christ would have us live? Tygrett has some thoughts on these subjects. The Practice of Remembering is a good read for anyone who thinks."
-Matthew Sleeth, executive director of Blessed Earth
"Through personal story, neurological insights, and spiritual practices, Casey Tygrett pastors his readers, inviting us to bring our whole selves—our past, present, and future selves, our physical, emotional, spiritual selves—into a life formed by the God who was, who is, and who is to come."
-Mandy Smith, pastor and author of The Vulnerable Pastor
"Our memories bind us not only to our personal past, but also to people, places, and experiences. Casey Tygrett's The Practice of Remembering is an exquisite meditation on the role of memory in our formation. By teaching us to pay careful attention to our memories, Tygrett points us toward a richer and more connected life."
-C. Christopher Smith, senior editor of The Englewood Review of Books and author of How the Body of Christ Talks
"I love this book. Casey Tygrett offers a simple yet life-altering invitation: to remember. Charting a path that begins in the past, in our memories, he does not let us stop there. Instead, with his coaching, we begin the spiritual practice of cultivating our life's memory collections and find clues to where God is at work in our present and future."
-Catherine McNiel, author of Long Days of Small Things
"The Practice of Remembering does something no other book I have seen dares to do. It explores the importance of memory in our spiritual formation. Our experiences, memories, and stories form a script that influences our lives in deep ways. This beautifully written, honest book is full of much-needed wisdom. Prepare to be changed."
-James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God
"There are smells, tastes, and moments in life that instantly take me back in time. I have my own mental DeLorean nearing eighty-eight miles per hour ready to shoot me back to another time, but I can never predict when it will reach velocity. Sometimes I wonder why recollections strike, but I've never pondered it deeply until now. Casey Tygrett, with deep insight and a sharp pen, leads us more deeply into what God is revealing to us through our personal and communal stories and how embracing those stories leads us forward."
-Sean Palmer, teaching pastor at Ecclesia Houston
"In spiritual formation we might often ask ourselves how we are going to change today or how we might experience God today. However, as Casey Tygrett deftly points out, 'We rarely ask, How did I come to the habits and actions I'm taking today?' This is important. Why is it that I struggle in certain situations and not in others? What do God and memory have to do with it? Engage with Tygrett's words and wisdom carefully and you will discover why it is so important. This book makes a definite contribution to the realm of spiritual formation. . . . I am happy to recommend it to you."
-Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up Is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself, from the foreword