Editor’s note: This column was originally run in The Mountain Mail June 8, 2017.
When I first started college back in the early 1980s, one of the first courses recommended to me was a course on how to improve memory (mnemonic devices). It must have been effective because I’ll never forget the techniques we learned to improve memory.
For instance, you don’t have to make a shopping list. All you have to do is imagine the things you want to buy at the store as something silly or crazy.
As an example, before you leave home you picture the first thing you need to buy in a crazy way. ‘I need bananas,’ so the door handle on my car is shaped like a banana. ‘I need to buy salad,’ so ‘my car is shaped like a bowl of salad.’ And the more crazy the image the easier it is to remember. And you keep thinking of weird images as you make your list.
Another example had to do with when you meet someone and want to remember the person’s name, you think up a silly characteristic that has to do with their name. If he is a rather thin person you might nickname him “Slim Jim” in your mind. Be creative and the image will be much easier to remember.
This amazing ability that we have as human beings demonstrates how we are created in God’s image and likeness.
Our human mind is unique. It has so many capabilities that we don’t use very often. And even though I learned all those interesting memory techniques, I rarely remember to use them. Why? Because it’s easier to make a shopping list than think up a bunch of crazy images.
Nevertheless, think about how the capabilities of the human brain are so amazing compared to a computer. People have the amazing ability to invent things like transportation, artificial light and lots of other things that no other creature (that we know of) has the ability to do. We even sent a man to the moon.
The fullness of the human mind and our ability of understanding and being able to express what we are feeling inside is a miracle, and no other known creature has the same abilities that we have.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 26-276) you might read more of how this helps us to understand what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God.
As St. Paul says to the Gentiles:
“For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” – Romans 1:19-20.
Other Scriptures: Acts 14:15, 17; 17:27-28; Wisdom 13:1-9, Psalm 139:14
St. Augustine said, “We may well cry out to the living God, ‘such knowledge is too wonderful for me: it is high, I cannot attain unto it.’ For I understand by myself how wonderful and incomprehensible is Thy knowledge, by which Thou made me, when I cannot even comprehend myself whom Thou hast made! And yet, ‘while I was musing, the fire burned,’ so that ‘I seek Thy face evermore.’”
The miracle of knowing, thinking, wondering, etc. is so amazing. Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation. Man has this capacity because he is created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27). Even thinking about thinking is a God-given gift that reflects his image.
The Rev. James Williams is pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Salida.