Points to Ponder: Why you can't go back (even if you could)

Points to Ponder
Why you can't go back (even if you could)

When you visit the old neighborhood, your first place of employment, or roam your old stomping grounds, what feelings come? Pleasant memories?
As a high school senior, I served as a page at the State House in Annapolis. During a private tour of the dome, I saw graffiti from well over a century ago with which people had left their mark. I try to imagine what they were like; how they lived. What would they think if they could come back and see these places they once had known?
As I study local history, I sometimes picture Confederate General Robert E. Lee; propelling him from his 1865 world to the present day. I imagine him looking around at places where he had traveled. What would he think? Places and things have significance for their time and in our lives. How would Lee see it now? Would he point to a mall and recall the night a regiment camped there? What would he think of the paved roads, which were dirt paths in his day? We see the well-tended grounds of Antietam Battlefield with all the statues and memorials around. Would he recall in great detail the carnage, the smell of death, and the incredible weight of responsibility that leading a war had brought upon him?
When you think about places, homes and property, and the roads you have traveled in life, you often find they carry meaning. Some would call it "baggage." Some people have great difficulty dealing with the places where they've been.
So many things in life carry meaning, which, in themselves, they can not create. What is it that we miss about certain times and places? What is it that we long to forget about others? Define the "it". The things and places themselves don't generate or sustain the power and authority we bestow upon them. When these fixed objects make contact with our senses and an emotional response rises from within, we credit the disinterested object or place. It's either glorious in its goodness or guilty for its badness. And yet it is in itself neither.
Isn't that why when we tour a battlefield like Antietam, we feel no qualms about packing a picnic or taking a bike ride through it? It's a park, but it use to be a cornfield. Then it became a battlefield. Now we study plaques, watch the film in the Visitor's Center, and read up on the Civil War, to get a sense of what this place meant to those soldiers and that area. It does not affect us. No matter how avid a student or how often a tourist, the "baggage" of that place and the horrors that occurred there, don't stick. On Monday morning, we are back to work and life goes on.
As I minister to older persons and as I become older myself, I ponder what people are doing with the places and the props of the stage where their earlier years were played out: the home place, the old school, the "way it use to be around here." Some think life is over. The way things were is the way things ought to be. But, you can't go back, because time never goes in reverse. Things change and that fact is all that remains the same. The places and the things are not the source of the meaning they hold for you -- or that some hold over you. They're just things. Just places, and history moves forward.
If you are walking through it with the Lord as your Savior and Your God, the one thing you can count on is that you are heading for Home. And when you get there, no matter how bad things are now, there will be rest and peace then. And if things are really great right now; well you just can't imagine how much better it's going to be.
Do not say "why were the former days better than these?' For you do not inquire wisely concerning this. (Ecclesiastes 7:10)
Even if you could go back, you would fit there just as Robert E. Lee would fit here. Yesterday now has a feel to it that it didn't have when it was "today." You remember something as being so good or so bad but you probably didn't think it out like that at the time. You just lived through it. And who you are today has something to do with where you were and what you had yesterday.
So many people mess up or completely miss their todays because they long to make them become yesterday. Yet, if we just would realize that our appreciation for yesterday is because, now, it is today.

Points to Ponder is a series of occasional articles written by Rev. Dennis Whitmore, Pastor of Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring, MD (1/4 mile east of Clear Spring on Rt. 40). Listen to Pastor Dennis on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs, at 10:45am and 7:50pm, both days; and every Sunday from 7:30-7:45am on "Consider This". www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com.