"Take care of all your memories, for you cannot relive them." - Bob Dylan
It is funny how age sneaks up on you.
In many ways, 1980 seems like ancient history. And to many of the "kids" in our church, it is. We have deacons who were not even born then, and elders who were still learning how to zip and tie shoes. The year 2000 might as well have been a millenia away, and no one (including, apparently, Bill Gates) worried about Y2K bugs. In the immediate past of that time lay the musical tragedy of disco, and the future held the equally disturbing "hair bands." (Save the comments - you will not convince me that the hair bands were good music.)
For a kid growing up in the farmlands of middle America, the journey to the present now seems completely unlikely. The small (and I do mean small) bedroom community of my youth now seems impossibly distant to me. A kid of 15, in my future lay marriage, children and a host of challenges that, though now in my past, would have seemed insurmountable to me at the time.
Though the memories are hazy, I can recall the days of sitting around at my friend Van's house, listening to Led Zepplin, Pink Floyd, and the Stones. Occasionally, Marc would come over with his Van Halen albums (yes , they were all LP's, vinyl, you know, those large usually black things you had to put on a turntable connected to your HiFi.) and we would humor him and listen to them. There were no bills to pay, mortgages to feed, kids to shuttle.
It is amazing how quickly time passes. Those days you thought would never end are all suddenly gone. And then one day you wake up and life is real. You have places to be, and you are no longer responsible just for you, but for spouses, children, parents, co-workers, and employees. The complexities of the now replace the simplicities of youth.
It would be easy to glorify the life of my youth. I had a good youth, but it was not always simply good times with friends, with no pain or reality to interfere. Even now I can look and see some of the scars that life has given through those years, both physical and mental. I can look at my hand and see a scar I got fighting with Philip Bellew over some girl we both liked. (We were friends again a few days later.) I can see Eddie Carter and Ingrid Collin's faces, classmates and occasional friends who passed away in car accidents during high school. I can see John's face, a much closer friend whose death still fills me with regret and a real sense of personal guilt.
By and large, though, my youth was relatively trouble free and carefree. God has given us the blessing of time, which seems to force us to remember the best, and forget the rest. (Or perhaps it forces us to remember it as better than it was?) And that is why, mentally, it is such a pleasant time to go back and remember, even though those memories have faded.
It is funny, though, how some things can bring those memories flooding back vividly. A few weeks ago, listening to Stokes, Connie and Adam sing a song written by Adam, was one of those moments. Music, for some reason, seems to transport us at times to other places and to other memories. And Adam, Connie and Stoke's singing took me back to those simpler days of my youth. Suddenly, I was vividly the age of 14, sitting in Van's house with the guys and listening to the new Bob Dylan album that Van had bought. And what a great album it was - Dylan's "Slow Train Coming."
I have written about it before, but it is worth me saying again: Bob Dylan, absolutely the most brilliant musical and literary talent in modern history and all around coolest rocker ever, was writing, playing, and singing gospel music. For a kid who liked music for the words and sounds, Dylan's gospel drip would later turn to a river. (Van hated the album, and gave it to me.)
Searching YouTube the other day, I once again had one of those moments. I was transported back to those days. Take a listen to Dylan's "In the Garden" from his "Saved!" album of 1981.
If you watched it closely, you would have noticed that Dylan's back up band for that tour was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Pretty amazing. The contrast of a dystopian hard rocker Dylan singing about the crucifixion of Christ, backed up by Tom Petty, is to me poetic, and humbling. And what great memories they make.
Paul said it this way: Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil. 4:8.
Those moments in my youth, and in my present, are pure moments. And those moments will continue. We will continually build a lifetime of memories. And it is nice to walk those paths every once in a while and recall them, but I would not trade the responsibilities and relationships God has given me now for those days. And I know years from now, I will turn my hearing aid up and listen to some whippersnappers sing or preach, and a smile will come across my face as I rememer Stokes, Connie and Adam's song, and the perfectness of that moment in worship.
As a church, we have much to be thankful for, and many memories are being made in our midst. Memories that will be eternal.
Take care of your memories, because you cannot relive them. Thanks for tolerating me while I share mine.
P.S. - Burt - it is time for you to use your Wonder Elder powers and force Stokes, Connie and Adam, at gunpoint if necessary, to record that song and post it in .mp3 on the church website.