Happy memories don’t need to fade. They can even make today more pleasant by counting the ways we’ve carried with us their joys and been relieved of their burdens. I thought of this when I glanced at a picture hanging in my kitchen this morning. A young woman pausing in the chicken coop to gaze out the window. Her apron, her egg basket, the hens on their perches or in the nests. I had to buy that picture because it looked exactly like me when we lived on our ranch in Oregon. Even the basket looks identical to the one I had and still have.
Those were happy times and I thought they would continue the rest of my life. After many years of pulling up stakes and moving on to make a home in another place every two years or less the ranch was to be our final move, our Shangri-la. And it was, for me, those seven and a half years. Then I had to let go and say goodbye to the little house sitting on field stones, the big barn sitting on horizontal poles, the wide fields, the creek that spilled into the Upper Applegate River, the swings, and my chicken coop with its precious occupants.
I still have all those memories and when I stop to really look at the picture on my kitchen wall, they come alive for a few moments. But now I don’t need to clean out the coop, (a stinky job!), wash that dingy window or gather the warm eggs and feed the hens and roosters. I didn’t mind doing all that, even enjoyed it. Then. Would I want to be doing that now? I think not. I have it here in a picture while I enjoy my new circumstances and conveniences to their fullest.
It’s always been that way with me. Letting go of one form of good clears the way for something even better. I can’t count the places I’ve lived where I’ve said to myself, Now I am really home; I’ll never move again. The last place I lived in, my cozy condo beside the little creek and waterfall where wild ducks swam and played was my heaven then. But I was suddenly yanked out and given this, my present Shangri-la. I feel so much at home here I doubt I could feel more so if it had been my home since birth.
I’ve discovered all through life that there’s something good and refreshing about leaving a home while it’s still the most pleasant place on earth. Why? Because there’s something better out ahead. There’s a new NOW, a wonderful new life awaiting.
It’s been my observation that when people don’t or won’t let go of the past, when they still cling to past places, thinking them better than present, they languish under circumstances that could be delightful if not strangled by remorse. I think, in a way, that hanging onto the past and its pleasantries is like making a graven image of them and bowing down before them with eyes closed to the beauty and promise right at hand.
Can pictures bring back loved ones too? I think they help to remind us of the way we were, but not the way we are. I look at the smiling face of my young Marine pilot husband and suspect he’s smiling the same way now somewhere. Maybe even right here. Perhaps we’re not separated at all but merely tuned into different frequencies. I believe that progress is a law of God and both of us are progressing. For the time, however, we are in different classrooms. Shall we meet again and compare notes? I’ll leave that to divine Providence.
Today Robin and I are taking our friend, Suzy, out to lunch at her favorite fast food place, Kentucky Colonel Chicken. It’s a once a month outing. Those extra crispy pieces won’t hurt us once a month and they do taste so good! I don’t hear the waterfall anymore but oh, the sound of the rustling of these tall stately trees around me! I can hear wild bird songs too and they keep Tommy company as he contributes to their melodies.
It’s a good day, a beautiful day, and I have a carton of eggs in the fridge that were laid by free range chickens. I know what those eggs felt like when they were still warm. I know the sweet odors of hay and stinky chicken coop. I know what it’s like to move on. It’s not easy to move, it’s even a pain, but when you’re settled in and at home again? It’s today’s Heaven. Until there’s a better one.