My home town is still my town. I don't have to wonder what it would be like to go back to the home of my childhood because I am there. Yesterday I rode down the streets of Downtown, once changed to the name Uptown by some development board who hung banners proclaiming the place to be Uptown, but the name didn't stick. Now once again downtown is Downtown as it was meant to be in my hometown.
As I rode through downtown yesterday, as I do very often. for some reason on this particular day, a memory came to me as clear as if it happened that very day. I passed a corner which I remembered was once a bus stop. I remember sitting on a wooden bench that once sat on that corner waiting on a bus to take me home after I had been downtown shopping. I was ten years old. I remember that day very well because it was the first trip I made on the bus to town all by myself.
On that day I paid Wayne,(still remember his name) the bus driver 25 cents as I climbed on the blue van with the words East-West City Bus painted on the side. I sat on the very first seat right behind the driver's seat. I liked to sit there because the fan that was mounted on the dash blew in my direction. I liked to sit there because the very small transistor radio tied to the rearview mirror could be heard barely when I sat on that particular seat. (I loved the Beatles, especially Paul.)
I remember what I bought that day. At Shainberg's I bought a lavender tent dress with yellow and white daisies to wear to Sunday school the next day. I bought a yellow beaded necklace and a new dairy with a blue flowered cover at Kuhn's Variety Store. At Kent's, I bought as a lavender striped knit dress with a chain belt just like Mitzi Beasley's (the fashion queen in the fifth grade). I thought it was amazing that I had something like hers. I ate a cheese toast and a Dr. Pepper at TKE's lunch fountain then crossed main street back to the corner bus stop and awaited the East-West City Bus's arrival to take me home. I was so tired and couldn't wait to get there.
Yesterday, as I remembered that day from so long ago tears started flowing for some reason and wouldn't stop. I thanked God for the fact that I now had my own transportation to drive through downtown, something my family never had when I was a child. I knew there were many things I didn't have then that I do have now. For that I am thankful, but then I thought if I would have had everything when I was a child, I would never have had such a special memory of such a special day from about forty years ago. I once again prayed and thanked God for giving me that special day so long ago and for allowing me to have such a special walk down memory lane as I rode these familiar streets of my hometown. It may sound silly, but I also thanked Him for all the circumstances and situations that had caused me to remain living in the same little town throughout my life. As many times as I longed to leave here when I was younger, I now realize remaining here was a blessing.
There are so many things we have now that we forget to be grateful for. There are so many memories from our past that make us think of all the things we didn't have then that we think we should have had. These memories sometimes make us sorrowful There are so many what-ifs and whys from our past that sometimes make us bitter and think we just got stuck in a particular place. God has a plan for each of our lives. His plans are not our plans. If He keeps us in a place, it is for a reason. If He moves us to a place it is for a reason. Sometimes what we think are downs are really ups in God's eyes. He has named us and called us to be who we are and where we are in life, no matter if we ourselves, or others try to proclaim us to be someone less than that.
No matter how others try to relocate us, rename us, no matter how many memories from the past cause tears to flow, we must be thankful to God for all things and remember we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.
We all are looking forward to the day we will get to go home. It is great to be here breathing and remembering and driving and shopping and living and loving. But, remember, some day we will catch a ride back home, to our true hometown. We will go up and walk down golden lanes where there will be a big reunion and we will remain forever more at home with Jesus who will wipe all tears from our faces.
Below is a poem I wrote last Monday that was also about memories. As I wrote it I realized even sad memories sometimes serve special purposes and we can not move them completely from our minds. I hadn't planned to share this one, thought it was just for me, but it goes with the devotional I wrote this morning.
There are some memories lodged in my heart causing such great pain.
These memories stored in my heart I struggle to move to my brain.
In my heart, they are fresh, larger than life, and so very real.
When they move to my brain perhaps the hurt will begin to heal.
In the heart, the laughter turned to loneliness I can feel.
If stored in the brain with all these emotions I won't have to deal.
You see the brain is more neutral, less personal, more detached.
My heart is more involved, more loving, more likely to react.
With tears, heaviness, and brokenness unashamedly displayed,
Unable to hide that I am covered with sadness, suffering, and so afraid.
In the brain, so many memories are stored from years gone by.
I seldom brush the dust from them now and ask what if and why.
Those memories too I know once lived so deep within this heart of mine.
I can still remember those struggles, those tears, that hurt and all the time
It took to pack them up in boxes and tie them tightly with strong string,
And move them to the brain where they lost the freshness of their sting..
So today, as I brush a straggling tear from my cheek that I didn't know, was there,
As I ask God once more why; this all seems so unfair.
As I stuff in one more memory, filling the last box with the worst and the best,
I remember yet another memory forgotten that has to go along with the rest.
I run back in to grab it but it hides quickly away in a corner of my heart.
Maybe tomorrow, but not today with this last memory I will be able to part.
They say time heals all wounds of every kind and sort,
But even time can't take memories completely from the brain that once lived in the heart..
tact -a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.
Think fast. Spell squeeze backward. Ok, that was too easy huh? But you did have the word right in front of you. A few kids were playing a board game in which spelling words backward was one of the tasks they had to accomplish. Watermelon was one of the words, as was squeeze. Just as it isn't too easy to squeeze the juice out of an uncut watermelon, it isn't too easy to spell words backward, especially if you are young and just learning to spell forwards.
A child sat with a blank stare on his face when asked to accomplish the backward spellathon. Teammates encouraged him to hurry hurry hurry. But the adults realized the child wasn't going to be able to squeeze the letters out backward or forwards no matter how much the teammates wanted him to get the task done. So the adults used a little tact. Squeeze was replaced with cat, which spelled backward is tac (sp) as I said is what was used and all was well with the world, for a moment anyway.
In life, there are so many things we are expected to accomplish that aren't that easy. Finding the answers to some questions seem impossible, about as impossible as squeezing the juice out of an uncut watermelon. Others around us, tell us to hurry up, just get it done, get over it. It all seems so simple to the onlookers, who don't have to answer the questions or make the decisions that we must make in our own lives
Sometimes God sees that the tasks set before us are next to impossible. Of course, things that seem impossible with man are possible with God, but I think every once awhile God looks down and sees no matter how much others urge us on we just aren't going to squeeze out the solution backward or forwards. That is when God uses a little tact and takes the difficult squeezes and turns them into something with a much simpler answer for us, His children.
Even though we aren't all too crazy about possessing cats, their name only contains three letters. Spelled backward that is tac, which is something we all have to possess when trying to squeeze a little juice from a whole lot of uncut watermelons in this life. Oops, did I spell that right?