You may see a group of cabins and a firepit, but I see people too. . . . friends gathered around that fire singing songs and sharing some of the deepest parts of their lives. The sound of that door springing open unleashes thoughts of 80’s hair bands blasting through a jambox and floods my heart with joy and the emotions I experienced in those cabins. I can smell the wind as it carries laughter through the trees, and in spite of my attempts to describe it, you will never be able to hear that laughter. And how could I blame you? You weren’t there.
I love being in certain places. There are places that conjure deep emotions for me and some that make me feel light and free. Each of these places is filled with memories.
As much as I try, I have found that I can’t really ever go back to those places though. I mean. . . yes. . . I can be in the same space and I can enjoy being there and remembering, but it’ll never quite be the way I remembered it. What I remember is not just the place, it’s the people who were with me and the circumstances around my life that shaped the way I experienced that place. Even if the place has by some miracle stayed the same, the people and circumstances around my life have changed and so I experience it differently.
David Wilcox says, “The measure of that place is the pleasure on your face.”
It’s not the place that makes it special – it’s the people and it’s God. What makes certain places stand out and become memorable to us is God’s hand stirring our hearts and guiding our thoughts/emotions as we interact with others in the space that we’re in. (By the way, even if you’re alone in the space, God is still with you.)
I never finished this, but it was an idea for a poem or song or something to give to my children. It expresses the things I plan to share with my kids when I take them to visit Meridian State Park someday. I’ll tell them the story of how I came to know Jesus. I’m so excited about that day! These words capture some of the emotions I feel as I think about telling them.
Anyway, maybe I’ll finish it someday, but I wanted to go ahead and post something so I wouldn’t lose it.
Come let me show you this place, this place full of grace.
Come let me show you the spring where we sat and listened to the quiet
And the outcropping where we waterbombed the bus.
Let’s go walk the carpet of bluebonnets
and run past the bees on the trail of Mesquite
As a child I ran these trails and stepped on a snake
These vines scratched my legs but helped heal me too.
We played frisbee golf and waterballoon volleyball
Chased Bulldog to soak him
James Garner taught us the Scriptures under the tree.
Ross Senter spoke around the campfire.
Let me show you the grace in this place.
Come watch the horizon swallow the sun
Breathe in the lights. See the milky way run
From up on the ledge and above the lake
Lets watch the sky. and see the stars come awake.
Come hear distant voices from the lake down below
Let’s sit and sing and wait – take it slow
If we’re lucky we’ll see a star fall from space
Here in this place – this place full of grace
And this is where I sat and sang and cried
Around the campfire On the night I gave my life to Christ.
This place is so dear. It’s a place I want you to know
Whether this place or that place, I want you to have your own place full of grace.
When I was a little kid, I remember my dad taking me to the beach. I wanted to go out where the big boys were in the “Big waves.” He took me. The water knocked me over and I tossed and turned in the waves, but dad held on to me when I couldn’t stand on my own. He was my strength when I was weak. Sounds a lot like God to me. Anyway, I have an old picture from those days. I love it.
I took my son, Kasen, to the beach the other day and we tried to capture the same image again with me as the father this time. I hope I can be the strength that Kasen needs as well as my dad was for me.
I’ve been reading “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell lately. So far, it’s a great book. I just thought I’d share one of the many ideas that I’ve been thinking about lately.
Gladwell says that much of what we remember is actually not stored in our brain, but outside our brains. He gives the example of phone numbers – most people don’t remember the actual number, but instead they remember that they can find the number in a phonebook/address book or actually in their phone memory. In the same way, a busy mom doesn’t remember how to fix the computer, but she remembers that she can go to her teenage son to fix it. He calls this kind of memory “joint memory” and argues that this is another reason divorce is so difficult. When one loses a spouse, one loses part of his/her joint memory and this feels like losing a part of yourself.
This “joint memory” idea was proven by a study which asked couples to remember 64 statements 5 minutes after looking at them. The couples who knew each other remembered many more of the statements than those who didn’t know each other. Those who knew each other well were able to mentally assign specific statements to each other based upon their interests/expertise’s. They only had to actually remember half as many statements because they knew their partner would remember the other part.
OK – what does this have to do with anything? Well, first of all I just thought it was interesting. This means that a larger family has a larger “joint memory.” How has the trend toward smaller families impacted this memory over time? How has it impacted the church? I mean, the church is supposed to be a family right? Do we have a collective joint memory?
The first 5 books ofthe Bible are evidence of this idea. These stories were passed down from generation to generation. They created an identity for the Jewish people. Everything they thought or did was impacted on some level by this identity – this “joint memory.” They learned the Scriptures together and understood their whole world as a community. As a community, they interpreted the Scriptures – and for that matter, they interpreted life as a community. Over the centuries, as the church has become more and more individualistic, what have we lost? What “joint memories” are we losing? Can we regain them? How can we build and grow true community like this again? How can we live together again and build our “joint memories” in such a way that our whole community identity is found in Christ?
When I came home last night, Kasen was asleep on the floor of the living room. I put away my things, emptied my pockets, and then went to sit on the couch to talk to Miranda. As soon as I settled into my spot, Kasen stirred a bit and opened his eyes. Half asleep, he stood up and stumbled across the floor to me. And then raising his hands, he grunted a sound that I understood. I picked him up and he fell asleep again on my chest.
I stayed there and held him. I prayed over him and tried to savor the moment – thinking, “I want to be able to recall this moment when he’s 16 and yelling about how much he hates me.” I thought about how it felt to have him wanting to be in my arms. I felt for his heartbeat and listened to the way he was breathing. I took a mental photograph of his sleepy eyes when he realized that I had come home and I filmed his stumbling walk across the floor.
I love my boy and I loved that experience yesterday.
I know he won’t always want me so close, but I’m already realizing how difficult it will be to allow him to grow up. I’m praying that my mental photography and videography will help me make it through the tough times that are lurking in our future.
Take some mental photographs today of the people you love.