All of our journeys begin in childhood and we often revisit that magical time as memories surface unsolicited. Childhood memories are pulled back into our consciousness by sights and sounds and smells. Autumn leaves crunching under our feet will forever be a stroll home from school. The smell of cedar or pine when entering a warm house from the cold outside may transport us back to a childhood Christmas. In a sudden downpour, we see a child dancing in the rain. We recognize this child, a phantom of our yesteryear. The smell of chlorine and sunscreen is a carefree summer’s day at the pool between third and fourth grade when we finally got up enough courage to go off the high dive. “Look at me-e-e-e,” our squeal told the world on the way down. Crickets chirping outside our bedroom window after nightfall was a childhood lullaby.
Our most endearing memories, however, can easily be the extended family gatherings that brought together the grandparents, aunts, uncles and, of course, the beloved cousins. “Absence does make the heart grow fonder,” as those uncontaminated relationships with the cousins epitomized all that could possibly be right with the world. The adults would be huddled around the kitchen table after the plates had been cleared away, drinking strong coffee and talking and laughing. The cousins would then steal away. No telling what adventure awaited us in the attic, or under Grandmother’s old bed. We children never got to hear a word the grown-ups said; that was adult talk, not meant for our ears. We didn’t care back then; playing was our passion. If we could go back, we would listen in on their conversation. Dad was there; Mom was there talking and interacting with their peers. If we could see them now through the eyes of the adults we have become, what would we see? What would we hear?
There is usually one member in every family of the attic dwellers who in his or her adulthood puts together a family tree. (My brother, the oldest sibling, was the one who put ours together.) But, the family tree is only a skeleton of our past. Those laughing and talking people around the kitchen table were the flesh and blood. However, would hearing their interpretations add that much meaning to our present and future? Would who they were be that significant in revealing the persons we have become? We may rightfully feel that their interaction with us has stamped us in some negative way, which has put us on a mission to find out who we really are.
“Who am I?” we may have pondered at an age when we wanted answers. The stacks of how-to books purchased by the need-to-know generations post-World War II, were read in hopes of finding the answers to why we think what we think and do what we do; but did they scratch the surface of our souls? Not mine. One day, I took the lot of them to Goodwill, but not without feeling a wee bit guilt for “unloading” them on some other unsuspecting fellow seekers of truth.
Time and so many dead-ends have taught me that there is ONLY ONE WAY we can arrive at the place of knowing the persons God intends us to be. “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2: 10b-12). We are believers and we have God’s spirit living in us! And now as his BELOVED CHILDREN, we can come to his table where we feast on life-changing knowledge.
~ A.R. Cecil