On the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, my husband and I decided to take a drive into Troy to do a little reminiscing in the city where I grew. Snug in the warmth of our car, we traveled down the interstate, turned on Main Street, and headed to view my family home that had been occupied by new residents since the passing of my Mom and Dad.
Upon viewing the front, I noted that the new tenants had made a few improvements but had kept the overall look of the property as it had been. Warm emotions filled my heart. We drove around the block and down the alley where we could stop the car to look at the house from the back. I cracked my window to get a better view.
The backyard testified to the dominance of winter: the grass was brown, the trees were leafless, and patches of frost dotted the landscape. There were about a dozen blackbirds and an equal number of sparrows pecking at the ground for seeds, while a brown squirrel busily scampered up a tree and through its branches. A slight wind was blowing, the howl of which seeped through the window and sang winter’s cold, doleful tenor.
After a few moments of observation, my memory took preeminence over my cognition. As though with a flip of a switch, I was transported to my grade school days when my parent’s backyard was a playground for the neighborhood. I envisioned the game of tag and the special friends who gathered to play it. The tree at the edge of the property was no longer barren and brown but alive with foliage and was, again, home base. The clothesline pole upon which the birds perched was likewise transformed to reveal an off-base safe zone. I could see it – kids running to avoid getting tagged; shouts filling the warm summer air; pursuers shouting, “gotcha; you’re it.”
How real those few moments of memory became. Again, warm emotions filled my heart. A smile transformed my face as a tear fell upon my cheek. I stayed in the reminiscence. I lingered in the nostalgia. If it had not been for the imaginary sound of my father’s voice calling, “Pat” in the background, I might have dwelt there longer; but the present demanded my attention and the cold reality of winter again came into view.
Later that day, I thought about my flashback. I thanked God for that good reservoir of memories. I whispered a prayer to express gratitude that I have the ability to draw from yesterday’s blessings to refresh myself when the present seems frozen and fruitless. Proverbs talks about the wisdom of gathering and storing during a time when the fields are bountiful. Why? Winter will come. Less profitable, less bounteous times happen to everyone. That which has been stored during the summer becomes our sustenance for winter.
I spent the rest of my day in mental containers of yesterday. I recalled early family memories of my sister, brother, and cousins that filled my childhood with love and laughter. I reminisced about abundant seasons in my younger, adult life: our first home, a new baby, the memorable vacations, and those dream-come-true opportunities. I looked back over the decades of serving God and His people, and the many joys from that career. I was refreshed and renewed.
I’ve lived long enough to learn that every winter must complete its course and that wishful thinking does not change the reality of life’s coldest season. If it were not for storehouses, only the strongest would endure. Therefore, I must adhere to the wisdom of the scripture and make good use of my reserves. Summer will come again. Until it does, I have storehouses abundantly overflowing which have the power to add warmth throughout the winter days.