This summer I have been catching up on the series Downton Abbey. I know just about everyone in the world has seen this terrific program, but I never watched it. Early this evening, Janet and I finished watching the sixth season including the series finale. I love historical programming, including historical fiction, and I followed with interest the story line that things are changing. The old ways are going away and it is important to embrace the future, without forgetting the past.
Several other things have contributed to this idea of the past yielding to the future. Among other things, I ordered my younger brother’s headstone several months ago and it is to be installed within several weeks. Every time I walk upstairs in our home, I see the photo of Ken in between Doug’s and mine. It’s so difficult to realize that little kid in the photo is dead – at the age of 59.
Then, this afternoon, Janet and I watched a video that our son, Andrew, made after the death of Janet’s parents eight years ago. Once again, it was so strange to see their lives in retrospect – images of Janet’s folks, with all the various family members – as well as Janet and me with our three children when they were young. The old hairstyles and attire – the various homes that we have lived in and images of events long gone that I had all but forgotten about. In a way, I had a sense of melancholy. It seems that life is moving forward so quickly.
One of the things that really impacted me is the fact that most of the people in the photos are gone now. All our grandparents and grandparents – and in my case, even a brother. And as hard as we try, we won’t ever recapture the wonder of the past. The Christmases, Thanksgiving celebrations, Easters at the country club, dressing up for trick or treat and hundreds upon hundreds of other special memories.
Janet and I also watched a video that Andrew created for us at our 45th wedding anniversary, three years ago. Once again, for Janet and me to see our lives together through the years was really enlightening. It brought back great memories of days long gone, including images of our wedding with all our parents.
That’s not to say that we haven’t had and aren’t creating new memories and traditions but they are different from the old days. Growing up, we didn’t have cell phones, social media and all the other things that prove to be distractions today. We came home from playing when the street lights came on – and we hurried home… as kids, we were seen and not heard – we didn’t question adults and were, for the most part, far more respectful to our elders.
We didn’t film people coming up to the door with our Ring video cameras or have the means to send the police videos of burglaries or acts of vandalism. Clearly, some of this stuff is good, but it’s just different from the past.
Yesterday, Andrew and I had to run an errand together to the local Cracker Barrel restaurant. As I was speaking with the manager, I noticed the old Reed’s Root Beer and Butterscotch lifesavers near the register. Andrew had never even heard of them, let alone tried them – so, of course, I had to buy them for him.
I guess that I am trying to walk the fine line of acknowledging the past without living there. In the same vein, it is important for us to embrace the future and all the changes that it will bring – even if I am going there with a little reluctance. After all, some day there won’t be any of us left to recall the way that it used to be. Undoubtedly, that’s one of the things that I hope to accomplish with my posts each week – a window to the past and to memorialize life with the Toussaint family.
The Bible is quite vocal on the subject of hope for the future. Tonight’s verse is from the apostle Paul. In his letter to the church at Philippi, Paul, in his opening remarks, tells the church that he always remembers them in prayer. He also recounts their history with the gospel and finishes with an assurance that God will continue His work with them into the future. So, in one verse, Paul covers the past, the present and the future. He tells the Philippians in Philippians 1:3-6, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
My encouragement this evening is that God has been with us every step of the way and He will be with us forever. My prayer is that we may all stay grounded – with our memories of the past and our hope for the future – living our best lives that God planned for us in advance. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…