“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect.” ~ Owens Lee Pomeroy
Living in the present IS tense. Just pick up a newspaper, turn on the TV, or click on an internet news site.
You’ll find headlines screaming at you about economic crisis, crime, joblessness, war, homelessness, natural disasters, and social disasters. It’s enough to make you crawl back into bed, pull the covers up tightly over your head, and pull a Rip Van Winkle, hopefully awakening in 20 years to find it’s all over.
Maybe that’s why my mind often reverts to the past because the present is just so difficult to maneuver. It’s true nostalgia makes one feel better, and when we look back at the past, we tend to remember the perfect moments.
The other day, I drove to a much-needed hair appointment at my favorite salon. The morning air proved cool enough to fling my car sun roof wide open and power all the windows down. Traveling on some country back roads to get to the highway, I relished the refreshing morning air, and that’s when I heard it.
A distinct sound immediately transported me back to the past, back to my grandparents’ house. Somewhere a rooster crowed. Loudly. His “cock-a-doodle-doo” rang through the air. Instantly, I remembered the chicken coop at my grandparents’ where roosters and hens roamed the yard freely.
I also recalled one old mean rooster from which I steered away because he frightened me. Let’s just say he didn’t like the hand that fed him, that’s for sure. Once he attacked my grandmother flogging her legs and hands until blood flowed from them. Since she was elderly, she couldn’t scurry fast enough away from his menacing, pecking beak. If I remember correctly, he ended up being Sunday dinner.
I was just a young child then, but I remember those things well. When I think about chickens, I also recollect one Easter when my sister brought home two baby chicks. They were the cutest, downy fluffs. But as they grew, they became destined to join the other chickens over at Grandma’s house. They weren’t so cute then. In the past, they were adorable. In the present, not so much.
Later on my day out, I visited a local antique store. I’m always on the prowl for vintage items that middle daughter (my antique loving one) might use for her wedding plans. It was hot and humid in the store, just like stepping back into years of old when air conditioning didn’t exist. The wooden floor creaked under my feet and the place was crammed full of furniture, what-nots, dishes, you name it. If it was vintage, it was sitting somewhere in that shop. Even an old pump-organ rested there amid the clutter.
As I roamed among the nostalgic wares, my eyes would spy something that reminded me of my mother or my grandmother which prompted another trip down memory lane. Those kitchen items there – Grandma had those. That lovely dresser set consisting of mirror, jars, comb and brush - similar to a set my mother used.
All the items packed into that shop were useful in the past; some of them were loved and treasured by someone. Now they just gathered dust sitting on shelves, crowded into spaces where a passerby might happen to take a liking to them. In a way, it saddened me to think about all of the lives those discarded items represented.
After a while, the search for just the right treasure proved elusive. Wilting from the humidity, I crawled back into my car, cranked the a/c up and headed home. On my way, it occurred to me that we humans resemble those antiques. Useful, loved and treasured for a few seasons, but one day, life on this earth must end. For most of us, we’ll only be remembered when something triggers a memory of us in a living soul who once knew and loved us.
It’s true that we are like the grass as God’s Word reminds us in Isaiah 40:6-8: “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
We wither, we fade away, but that doesn’t mean life is without purpose. When our purpose is to live for Christ, show others His love, and lead them to Him, our past may not be perfect, neither may our present be, but the future? Oh, that will be perfect! Coming face to face with Jesus in Glory, hearing Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” and spending eternity with Him is the most picture-perfect future I can imagine.
In my book called Opportunity, Chapter 7 is coming to a close. On this 30th page, I’m thankful that the God of the Universe loves me (and you) and desires for us to spend our futures with Him. To receive that gift of grace that will last for all time, all we have to do is acknowledge that we are His and accept that Jesus is our Savior.
The following Casting Crowns song is one of my favorites. Even though you and I are just vapors in the wind, flowers quickly fading, waves tossed in the ocean, He hears us and He saves us.
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