“… the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Tonight, I’m scheduled to be on a Zoom call with fellow alums from my elementary school class. It was arranged by a friend I’ve known since kindergarten. It’s always been his habit to keep tabs on everyone throughout the years. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out he has a file on each one of us tracing our school and career progress all the way to retirement age. Over the years I, like the others, have gotten phone calls, cards, emails and text and FB messages from him, checking-in on us and bringing us up to date with his life. Once, I came home to find that he actually drove 60 or so miles to leave a mix CD of music from our teen and college days in my mailbox. I still have it and play it from time to time.
I saw some of the folks slated to be on tonight’s call a year ago this month at our 50 year high school reunion. Most I could recognize; a few I couldn’t. I expect tonight will be different in that, despite not being in the same room physically, we’ll have more time to really catch-up than in a crowded and noisy banquet facility. At least, I hope that’s the case.
Thinking about this has brought to mind memories of our elementary school. I knew every room in that building, even the janitor’s closets. Even today, I can form a mental picture of its layout, the entrance ways, the staircases, which teachers were assigned to different rooms upstairs and downstairs, and the dreaded Principal’s office. I still have some sense memory of the building’s smell and that of chalk dust in the air. I can picture the playground just outside of the west entrance and the candy store across the street from the east side entrance (If you had a dime, you could treat all your friends to penny candy or you could buy two candy bars.). You passed a baseball field and a large open grassy area adjacent to where the teachers parked their cars as you walked onto the property from the southside, which I did countless times in my childhood. So much of my childhood play, in school and out of school, was spent on that property.
When I was home for the reunion last year, I drove by and saw that my school had been demolished and replaced with office buildings as a part of a township redevelopment plan. I hadn’t been back in years and wasn’t expecting to see this. I experienced a melancholy moment or two. It shouldn’t have been too much of a surprise; the building was old but a part of me was still emotionally attached to it.
That was the second of two of the schools I attended that have been demolished and replaced, the first one being my middle school which was already ancient when I was in the 7th and 8th grade. That thing was eventually going fall under its own weight if the township didn’t do something. They did. The only remaining school from my youth is the high school which still has a lot of life in it since it was built in 1961 and has gone through one or two refurbishments since I graduated.
I’m sure someone will bring this stuff up on the call tonight. It might be me. It’s all a reminder that all things, even the things to which we are attached, eventually grow old and pass away. That is the way of the world, for newness and growth can’t be experienced unless room is made for it.
I’m not a particular fan of office buildings nor am I resistant to them. They serve a purpose, hopefully useful. And the children who now live in the communities once served by that school certainly must enjoy the newer facility they have (the challenges of Covid-19 notwithstanding) despite my melancholy over the old and cherished one.
While I’m thankful for the past (at least most of it) because of the smiles and good thoughts those memories bring, I am blessed in and very much enjoying the present and am hopeful for the future. I want to be a harbinger and facilitator of newness and growth, and I know there are others who want to be the same. I may mourn for a minute over what was loved and now is gone, but I rejoice over the new and the beautiful that has come in its place. I plan to enjoy it all for as long as I can.
As I said, this pattern has repeated itself over and over again throughout the millennia. No thing and no one is immune to it. And yeah, I believe the pattern will continue until the eternally new order of GOD, through Jesus Christ, is firmly established and the newness He brings remains new forever. Most of all, this is what I want to be a harbinger of and one of its facilitators. May it be so.
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!*
* From Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Lyrics © Clumsy Fly Music, So Essential Tunes, Hill
And Range Songs, Inc.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2020. All rights reserved to text content unless otherwise noted.