39 Years Later

Sometimes – often – I wake up in the early hours of the morning and can’t go back to sleep. I listen to music from the early 80s and for a moment it’s 1980, and I’m a college freshman again. I’m in my little shotgun apartment in Jacksonville with the cold tile floor. It is early in the morning. I’m sleeping on the same bed I had as a kid, and the sun is peeking through the thin drapes in my bedroom. My parents are asleep or just starting their day 100 miles away, but they and my grandparents will be in the stands on the 30- yard line near the concession stand on Saturday. And it is time for me to head to Southerners band camp or Mason Hall to practice – or more likely to philosophize on the bench outside of Jerkyl’s office. (Jerkyl was a nickname for Dr. Jerald Davis.) John is there. Jeff is there. Lisa is there.  For a split second we’re all there again. 

And then it passes as fast as the last 39 years have. 

The 80s music is still playing on an oldies station. But that split second when it was 1980 is over. This morning my father is far more than a hundred miles away. So is John. But, that’s ok. I know where they are. Mom is just down the street. My precious kids are down the hall asleep, and that’s very good. And it’s now. I enjoyed the visit and find myself in my melancholy 1980 from time to time. 

But today, here and now, is good. Life isn’t as simple maybe. But my world is rich. In a few hours my kiddos will be stirring. I’ll get my achy back out of bed and spend the day with young people exploring their 1980 for the first time or adult students building a better today for their families. I’ll spend the work hours with passionate colleagues and friends. I’ll see cousins by the dozens at Walmart. (That’s what happens when you live in your hometown.) And by the grace of God, I’ll return home to my kids and have Mom over for supper. I’ll still visit 1980, but even if I could – as sweet a memory as it is – I wouldn’t stay there and miss today.

Precious Memories IN THE MORNING

Folks, sometimes life can, well, really suck. (Can I say that?) But for those times, I’ve learned to draw on my memories of better times. For example, I was trading emails with an old college buddy this week. We both marched in the Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners “back in the day.” (You may now be in awe that I was a member of such an auspicious group.) He and I agreed that good memories, especially those of special times in our lives, are a gift and resource from God to sustain us through tough times. In fact, I don’t think it’s wrong to equate this with God’s command to Israel to set up monuments of remembrance for themselves individually as well as nationally to call to mind His blessings of the past. He said more than once something like “when your children ask… tell them.” So, I show my children pictures on Facebook of the Marching Southerners and old college friends. I was truly blessed to be a part of this group and have lifelong friends because of it. And the memories are not just “glory days” reminiscences. Instead, they are reminders in tough times that there were blessings in my life and that there are promises for the future. Now, I’m not about to break into a refrain of “precious memories, how they linger…” But, I might just lean back sing “I’ll fly away IN THE MORNING!” (Sorry folks, inside joke for all my 5,000 plus Southerners alum buddies.)

So, if you’re in a tough place in life, think back over where you’ve been and the good things and family and friends that God has put in your life. And if life is pretty good at the moment, then get off of that silly computer and get out there, live, do something, and make some memories for the future!