Sunday, February 20, 2011

From a Corner of My Mind

Maybe this title prompted Barbara Streisand's voice in your head ("Memories . . ."). If that song makes you feel warm and fuzzy, well and good. If it makes you want to run away from your computer screaming, I'm sorry but that is not the effect I had in mind.

That's the way it is when we reveal ourselves. I have have a meaning in mind, but you may experience something totally different. Even so, I am believing that something in that exchange will benefit both parties. That's why I started this blog. If I cannot believe this, then I am condemned to finding my way alone and should protect myself off from all alien intruders.

Something in the sermon at church this morning sent me 40 years into the past. My family lived in Victor, NY at the time and my parents had bought their first house. We lived about a mile from the school I attended, so quite often I would walk or ride bikes with friends. I remember one winter when I decided that riding the bus with others who wanted to make life rough on me (i.e. bullies) was not worth it, so I walked to school.

This is upstate NY where each February we took a week off because it just got too hard to get students and teachers through the lake effect snow and ice. We just wore out and couldn't keep doing it. We'd take a week off and called it mid-winter break. This is the kind of winter I walked through. It was kind of a test of my endurance of those years of oppression. Today we call it "middle school."

It helped that there was a self-service laundry 1/2 way there. I'd duck in there and warm up before continuing my journey.

(I hadn't really intended to write about that episode, but maybe it was as good for you as it was for me.)

What I remembered this morning in church happened during the brief summer of my eleventh year. On the way home from school we walked up the hill called Church Street to Clover Street where we would turn right into the Victorwood Subdivision.

Long before that housing development arrived, it was farmland. The remnant of the farm was a house with some fenced-in acreage. One of the owner's crops was Concord grapes. If your middle-school arms were long enough you could grab a handful of sweetness as you passed. The really brave future delinquents would jump the fence, scoop up an armload and escape before Farmer Jack knew anything. I don't remember being that brave (or brazen).

This memory reminds me that everyone is either a newcomer or an established resident. This is true in the workplace, a church, a family, a nation, etc. Too often as a newcomer, I have failed to respect the work and sacrifices of those who arrived here ahead of me. A lot of labor and love has gone into the "vines" growing around me and I would do well to ask permission before imbibing or using them to suit my own purposes.

If God grants me enough time, everyone will be a "newcomer" to me. I hope to have some fine vines growing by then and I hope I will remember to put a gate in the fence and keep it oiled. How much juice and jelly can one guy eat anyway?

Maybe all of this launched you somewhere down memory lane. If it didn't, keep reading because I plan to keep writing.

Memories are what we exchange the days of our lives for. Trade well.

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