Nostalgia lesson – past, present, and future

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My mom on the farm

“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.

© 2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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11 responses

  1. Inspired post! Love it! It flowed so beautiful to the last sentence!
    I am writing a lot in the past tense. If I haven’t already mentioned this, my plan is to collect my posts over a year to be collected into a book for the children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. I love reading posts in the present tense, and engage in some present tense writing, like you have done so capably…but I’m not doing so much right now as I try to capture the memories and stories.
    I so identify with this post probably because it is in the past tense. Great song choice.

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    • I love your idea of collecting your posts into a book for the younger generation! The memories and stories of our pasts are so easily lost. I wish so often that I’d been a little older when my grandparents lived with us, (my mom’s parents both died when I was 9 and my dad’s parents were already gone when I was a baby) so I could have asked more questions. Even now, I think of so many things I should have talked about with my parents before they passed away. I love reading about the past too; how else do we learn than by looking at the past? So glad you enjoyed my post and the song.

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  2. I’m pretty deep into my third chapter of Opportunity. My boy cries and smiles. As does my wife. And my parents age with old people’s diseases.

    So I tell myself, in the respite before sleep, that these, then, are my days of yore. The ones I will look back upon in later chapters. With wonder.

    And focus on our shared purpose.

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  3. Know what you mean. Certain things evoke so many memories. Especially smells, like that of Grandma’s kitchen. Or the old corner store that had a little bit of everything including the creaky floor boards. And yes, roosters crowing in the cool morning dawn. Sigh. Don’t you miss it?

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  4. “Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect.” ~ Owens Lee Pomeroy ~ what a wonderful quote! I love your blog, I identify with it from your 1st pen stroke. My dad used to order baby chicks every spring, 200 hundred of them and when we came in the post office door, you could hear the cheeping! Probably drove the postmistress crazy til we showed up to take them home. Keep up the great writing, sharing your words & heart as you, my friend are an inspiration to me.

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  5. Beautifully written! I love antique shops. I don’t often get to visit them but always enjoy it when I do. I love family gatherings and reunions because of all of the memories that are shared. I so enjoyed the quote you used today too. So very true.

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  6. Such a lovely post, Mama. I wonder how many things we remember from the past as being wonderful weren’t quite as wonderful as we remember. I still think it was a kinder, gentler time growing up than what today’s youngsters experience. This past week while we were away at the wedding, we didn’t turn on a news station or pick up a newspaper, and it was terrific! Loved the lesson you ended your post with, Mama. He, surely, has a love that will not let us go.

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    • Exactly! I think we do remember the past as being more wonderful that it probably was, that’s why I loved the quote I used in the beginning of my post. So glad you enjoyed your time at the wedding. It really is nice to just take a break away from the news every once in awhile.

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