It’s not often I do this. But every once in a while, I become obsessed with some photo from the past or some card someone once gave me or some other item that, if it still exists, is buried deep within a box in my closet. And I begin searching. Rummaging. Trying with all my might to remember or rediscover. Tonight it hit me. The kids. Teenagers from a long, long time ago. When I was in college. Kids we worked with at a United Methodist church in San Diego. I can vaguely remember the names. Cherokee was one of the boys. Brian, I think was another. The girls’ names, unfortunately I can’t recall. There weren’t many kids in the group. Once we took them to Knott’s Berry Farm. A southern California amusement park. Fun times…..
Why did this come to mind? I suppose because I just took a trip with a bunch of high schoolers. A van loaded up just like way back when in California. Only this time the purpose of the trip wasn’t all fun and games. Oh, some fun. Some games. But the purpose was a Civil Rights Tour. I journaled a bit on Saturday evening, and I’ll record it here soon.
But for now, now I’m reflecting on how things come full circle. Or kind of full circle. Maybe it’s more of an oblong squiggly type shape. But the comparisons are interesting. The beginnings. The wrap arounds. The incomplete. I would really like to know where Cherokee is. But I doubt I’ll ever know. I remember him as being too young to really be in the youth group. Yet that’s where he was placed. Before our arrival. So that’s where he stayed. It was my very first time to work with teenagers and I was barely not a teenager myself. First time in an environment one would label “inner city”. And I have wondered here and there, through the years, what would have happened had we stuck around there longer.
The rambling, United Methodist church building. Lots of rooms. Space. A neighborhood which to me seemed safe enough. Even though, if I remember correctly, others said it wasn’t. A long way from the college I attended. I do remember that. East San Diego. That’s what the area was referred to. A good distance from the beach.
Now, in the present day, I attend a United Methodist church. In my neighborhood. Another rambling, old building that has been a neighborhood church for decades. Kids. Lots of kids in and out through the week. Through the summer. Many boys like Cherokee.
I sat on a curb and texted my kids Saturday night. From Knoxville, TN. Here’s a photo I took. Another, similar church pictured.
Again, my mind can’t help but contemplate the similarities. A realization I have so many questions. That will never be answered. Why am I doing what we once set out together to do? At least it seems that’s what I’m doing. How bad did I mess up? That I ended up here. Or did I do everything right? Doubtful, because who does? But maybe I did enough and learned enough and gathered enough of what’s necessary to be. Present today. To be the designated reader of the young lady’s journal when she writes her thoughts. A privilege earned. Not simply given. And I’m thankful. Maybe I botched it years ago. Maybe I didn’t. But today is redemption. Today is only twenty four hours and tomorrow might yield a whole other life. But today. Today I am thankful. Today is not what I planned way back when. No one did. But today is all we have.