Maybe it’s my age, or maybe it’s the uncertainty of seminary, or maybe it’s that The Lord is finally managing to soften my heart enough for the feelings to break through a little more. Whatever the cause, I am finding myself startled by unexpected nostalgia for the part of rural Canada in which I grew up.
It’s mostly strange things that trigger it. Some of the footage in a documentary on wolverines that the mackerdoodle requested (yes, really) made me suddenly flash back to floating down the river on an inner tube with the youth group. (although I never did that with a wolverine – just to be clear)
The freak blizzard in Saint Louis this week that gave us two snow days didn’t make me nostalgic, but riding a sled down a tame hill with my youngest daughter clinging to me in terror made me suddenly want to build a bonfire and cook gallons of hot cocoa. You know. Like you do when you live in a place that gets a lot of winter.
But the thing that really got to me this week was a random tweet from a guy I knew a long time ago, linking to the blog of a young woman who wasn’t born when i graduated from high school. If she remembers me at all, it is as my sister’s sister or as Audrey’s adopted “niece”, but she’s a young woman from my hometown, and my home church and she’s playing basketball on scholarship at Oregon State, so of course I clicked through. What I was expecting was a quick peek into the life of a college athlete/hometown girl made good. Instead I was hit full in the heart with a wave of memories.
If you just clicked that link and didn’t grow up in our town and church, it’s a post about an appreciated care package, but for me it was a time machine. I remembered the annual announcements of donations to the college student care packages, and the annual care package stuffing parties that my mother would attend. It was a part of the rhythm of our church year, and so a part of mine. At the same time, like one home movie super imposed on another, I am remembering the two years in a row that I was the recipient of one of those treasured, hand packed, cardboard treasure chests of love. I have no memory of the trivialities it contained, but I clearly remember reading and re-reading the hand written notes from a church family I was only just learning to appreciate.
The funny thing is, I didn’t have a conscious memory of the February care packages. It was something that had been buried in 20 years of living and learning and becoming a different person; Until Blaine’s tweet about Ruth’s blog post dynamited the strata of my mind and unearthed something beautiful.
I love that so many years, and so many students and three pastors later, the Baptist church in my little home town is still sending these boxes of love. Considering this is a region in which tradition is mostly viewed as the enemy, it is a tribute to the grace of this covenant community that Ruth and I share this beautiful memory more than 20 years apart.
My parents don’t live there anymore, and it’s a part of the world one doesn’t exactly pass through, so I don’t know that I will have the opportunity to go back; but thanks to a tweet and a blog post, this week I took a quick trip “back home” and it was a lovely visit.