The Way We Were
At my ‘farewell do’ back in 1977, as I was saying ‘cheerio’ to Scotland and about to say ‘hi’ to Canada, my sister beautifully sang a popular song, ‘The Way We Were’ – ‘Memories, light the corners of my mind, misty water-coloured memories of the way we were. Scattered pictures, of the smiles we left behind, smiles we gave to one another, for the way we were’ (Barbra Streisand). For years afterwards whenever I heard that song tears of homesickness would freshly bubble up like a hillside spring after heavy rain. Yes, the way we were – I was a slightly melancholic young man heading to the ‘New World’ to start a new life.
Like a Manitoban prairie thunderstorm the ominous dark clouds of depression finally caught up with me and broke on my head some ten years later. I began to drown in a paradox of self-loathing mixed with self-pity. Who am I? What am I? Where am I? What does it all mean? I was sinking deeper into the whirlpool of the abyss. It was then that God rescued me, dragging me onto solid ground, giving me mouth to mouth, breathing new life into me and purging me of all the dirty water I had swallowed.
This year I will be returning to Scotland to celebrate my 60th at a function hall a stone’s throw from where my friends and family farewelled me almost forty years ago. It will be the first time I’ve caught up with a lot of them since then. No doubt there will be some reminiscing about the way we were. How much have I and they changed? Age has dyed my jet black hair light grey. Gravity has sculpted a few lines into the clay of my face giving me a more tired look. So much for my aging body. However, the main changes have been internal. My mind has been renewed. My soul has been restored.
Now I have a completely different relationship with Jesus Christ. I no longer use His name as a curse word. I freely speak of Him with praise. Some of my old friends may be embarrassed to hear me talk about Jesus, just as I was back in the day whenever anyone else would gush about Him. I remember being embarrassed for Cliff Richard whenever he spoke of Jesus as his Saviour on the TV back in the 70s. The way we were and the way we are now. For me it’s defined in terms of pre-conversion and post-conversion.
A Scottish friend of mine moved to New York City for a year. She was homesick. One of her aunts began to email her just one word every Sunday. My friend began to look forward to receiving a word each Sunday. It was her connection with home. She looked forward to Sundays. As I read her recollection of that time I began to be reminded of my life at present: As a church-attending Christian, I receive a word from home every Sunday – in the form of a sermon. It is my connection with my true home. Of course, I fill up from the nosebag of God’s Word every morning, but I really look forward to hearing His Word every Sunday.
Things change. People change. I’ve changed. However, God and His Word remain the same. ‘Memories may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget, so it’s the laughter we will remember, whenever we remember the way we were.’
I look to the future; ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away’ Revelation 21:4.