My days, these days, often start with a reflection.
When I was young, things seemed indestructible. Not me, necessarily, but the things around me. The places I found peace. I never felt that invincibility so often projected onto children; an adult assessment and description of little people who seem so clearly to live without fear; a white-washed observation of little people who may simply lack the tools to express their fear, or perhaps the option of expressing such in the face of a demanded happiness.
I feared things, certainly. Immediate things like bullies and loneliness and being stuck in a static boredom pervading my days. Dragging them on in perpetuity.
I feared change. I feared leaving things behind. Memories left on distant playing fields, in boats still in need of a knotted connection to shore, in bunk beds littered with hushed conversations between instant friends.
But, in the midst of that fear, I never imagined or considered that those things left behind would vanish altogether. That those places, all filled with deepening wells of love and grace, would cease to exist, leaving a new version of myself unable to make his return.
The geography of a place – the localized landscape, filled with man and God’s architecture and the fading footprints of the people that have loved it – sustains the past. It envelops and holds on to memories for future use, while inciting new ones. The simple fact of a place’s existence, of it’s continuing utility as a place to harvest joy and love and friendship, is the kind of thing that gives hope. Hope in spite of a fear of change. Hope to spite the loneliness one feels when he’s left so much behind.
We value such spaces too little, I think, entrusting them to those who might not understand the kind of sacred qualities a place can have in inspiring that love and joy and friendship, re-created and re-imagined with each visit, and placed atop the legacy the place has made. The lack of understanding is a symptom of shifting priorities; of a willingness to let the past remain passed; a willingness to let memories become stale and fragile in the absence of new joy and new love.
So we find new spaces and new places and hope that we remain able and willing to sustain the joy and love created back then on our own, without the benefit of that lost geography that was so very good at triggering grace.
Happy Summer, all. Missing you, Bement.