Tuesday, 7 October 2014


nostalgia: noun; a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time

Today as I was walking home from town, I passed a beautiful century home with a wraparound porch and a lush, green yard. Separating the front yard from the back was a hedge with a slightly overgrown archway, a la Secret Garden. As I was passing by, something about the view of the backyard through the arch brought me back to my childhood, where I used to play with my cousin at my aunt and uncle's house. 

They lived in an older home, I think built sometime in the 1920s, and somehow, after seeing through that hedge, I could see, feel, and even smell their old house. I was walking up the creaky, old staircase with the smooth, low handrail and I could smell the age of the house, I really could. I could see and smell the dirt and grass in the backyard, and feel the sawdust from my uncle's garage where he did his woodworking.

And then there is the apple tree down the road from our house where I often walk. When I pass under those sweet smelling branches, I can suddenly hear the crunching gravel as we drive down the road to the apple farm we frequented every fall in Belwood. I'm not crazy, I promise, but I can feel the chill of the cellar in the barn where we used to pick out the bushels of apples we wanted, and I can taste the different kinds we munched on while sitting on the tailgate of our van. I can even faintly feel the stomachache from eating too many apples.

I hope I'm not the only one who sometimes thinks about going back to the past. Maybe it feels so good because time erases the most horrible parts and leaves you with the good things that come back at certain points every year. You know what I'm talking about: the smell of leaves in the fall, the feel of wet socks from the snow that got in your boots while playing outside, the stickiness of those popsicles you ate on the deck, or in the shade of your favourite tree. 

I don't advocate living a life that is completely based in the past, because by doing that, you'd miss the opportunity of the present and the hope of the future. Plus, as Christians, we are not to dwell too closely on the past: “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?" - Is. 43:18-19a 

But there must be some benefit of being able to closely relate to the past and remember it in such detail time and time again. Maybe now that I have Brynn I'm thinking more about the experiences I want her to have, and how to convey them to her. 

Now, my past was definitely not perfect, but even through the brokenness I can pick out the beautiful parts with a clarity that astonishes me every time. Maybe because I have an idealistic personality type, I want to continually look for the good rather than dwell on the bad.

In the end, what I do know is that the feelings of nostalgia that present themselves at unexpected moments are an opportunity to take what is good about the past and use it in the present. We can learn from our mistakes and weed out the bad memories to use the good memories to grow and learn and love. 

Call me "Anne" (it's been done before), but that's just how I feel these days.

1 comment:

  1. You are definitely not the only one! I was right with you as I read this post - only it was my Grandparent's house that I was walking through and, yes, even smelling!