Wow! Sometimes the memories of our childhood are so bright they can take our breath away! That’s what happened to me yesterday and then again this morning. I had this flash of a memory of my brother and sisters and I all walking to the local movie house to see the Saturday matinee. I had my quarter clutched tightly in my hand and my older brother was holding my ‘popcorn’ money.
I wouldn’t want you to think that this was an everyday occurrence for us. We did not have much in the way of disposable income in our family so to get to go to the movies meant that someone – my step-grandmother perhaps, or my single uncle – had given my parents money so that the kids could go do something fun.
We walked to the movie house from our home. It wasn’t too far away but for an eight year old it was quite a trek, little legs striving to keep up with all of my older siblings. We lived in a suburb of Detroit and the roads were busy then, but not impossible to cross. We always made it in time to get popcorn and find seats all together. Then the movies! Sometimes it would be a double feature. I remember seeing The Blob, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Boy, oh, boy did those things scare me!
I had occasion recently to be back in Detroit for a revival meeting. I hadn’t been in the area since we moved away in 1966. It had changed so much, and yet was so very much the same. We drove by my elementary school (wow! So small!) and cruised by the two homes we had lived in. Both were so small! How did a family of eight live in those little bitty houses? If it weren’t for the addresses in front of me I would swear we were in the wrong place. They had looked so much bigger when I was a child.
I was surprised at the waves of nostalgia that swept over me. We had only lived in Detroit for about five years but they must have made quite an impression upon my life. I felt the ache of homesickness as we drove the streets, and the longing to have those days and my family back again. I wanted to start over – to go back to 1960 and start all over again, taking time to appreciate my family and the days we shared in those little homes. Life was easier (for me) then and I didn’t have all of the bad memories tormenting me. I only had a future and dreams.
As I reminisced about hopscotch and dodge ball and snow cones and Saturday matinees my driver was silent and simply drove where I directed him. I suppose he sensed that I was reliving those moments in my mind and he left me to it. After almost 50 years I still knew which turns to take and what road led to where.
The Lord has reminded me this morning that my memories, my past, are part of who I am. The good, the bad, and the ugly have all had a part in shaping me into the woman I have become. He has reminded me, too, that some of those memories are colored or tainted, like my memory of the houses as being so much bigger than they actually were. He reminded me that it is never good to yearn for the past. What we remember is not actually how it was and, if we could go back, we would wish we hadn’t done so. He has brought me back to the present like a kaleidoscope quickly turning and in the same moments bringing to mind all of the blessings He has placed in my life for today – right now. And with His sweet, gentle, touch I release the past into the past and embrace my present. After all, we really only have today.
May His love rain down upon you and His light shine through you – TODAY.