My father was once pastor of a Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Looking back, I probably didn’t make it easy for him or my mom, the pastor’s wife. I think I was just about Sixteen at the time. Do I need to say more?
There are witnesses to the fact that I may have been at most obnoxius stage of life; to this point. As I slide into full-blown senior adulthood though, it could be that my worst self is yet to come.
"Like I said, things never turn out exactly the way you planned. Growing up happens in a heartbeat. One day, you're in diapers; next day, you're gone. But the memories of childhood stay with you for the long haul. I remember a place... a town... a house... like a lot of other houses; a yard like a lot of other yards; on a street like a lot of other streets. And the thing is... after all these years, I still look back... with wonder." From The Wonder Years.
Now about this church in Tulsa. They have something now they didn’t have when I was a teenager there — a Facebook page. I’m a “follower”. Chronicled on the church’s FB page is a sort of reinvention for the church, which is something that probably could have happened to me during my few years there—reinvention that is.
I found myself a little troubled about the church’s actions, something they called a “reboot”, which included redesigning the church auditorium and changing the church’s name (for heaven’s sake). Why should it matter to me? I only spent a few years there, but they were important years. My dad and mom though, gave all there.
I think this is why it matters. It’s not as though the reboot necessarily does away with the seeds my folks planted there so long ago. It’s just hard sometimes when the bedrock stuff of your life shifts. Not long ago we drove down the street where I spent most of my growing up years. Our little house is gone now, and the Bordens Cafeteria where I can remember getting fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy for Sunday lunch has been replaced by a “dollar” store.
My folks are 92 and 89. My mom still checks “The Facebook” from time to time, when they have a good wireless connection at the assisted living village. If they have taken note of the changes at the church, they haven’t mentioned it. Probably they would see it as progress, and therefore, cause for thankfulness. They are like that.
For me I have the memories: like playing that little game during the sermon where you match up song titles from the hymnal to see what funny combinations you can come up with. My personal favorite: “Have Thine Own Way!” & “O, Why Not Tonight?!” And, I remember the wonderful people there who served with humility. I remember the man who taught my Sunday School class and wrapped up every, single lesson with this: “Now, boys, the lesson in a nutshell is…”
Maybe the point of this essay in a nutshell is this:
"You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." — from the book, You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe