Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Trip Down Memory Lane

I just spent the past four days at my parents house visiting with my family. Oddly enough, my wife did not join me for the trip because she needed the time to herself to fill out teacher applications. So I left with all four of my children on Thursday afternoon until Sunday night at the home I grew up in.

Now, this is what I want to know, is it just me or is there anybody else out there who has a hard time going back into the town you came of age? As I would drive around and pass by my high school, and the community college I spent my first two years of college at, and the bar I frequented (as a college student! Mind you, the Ohio drinking age was 18 at the time!), I could almost sense the brooding, angst-ridden, rebellious, sarcastic person I was in my late teens calling out to me.

But it wasn't just walking down memory lane recalling a lot of old feelings and pain from my past. It was also seeing what the town I grew up in was turning into. There were pockets of Elyria that seemed to be doing well (the Lorain County Community College seems to have quadrupled in size since I was there in '86, and a new Olive Garden is about to open) but overall I was shocked by the way much of the town has degenerated. Roads everywhere were awful. What used to be a fine dining establisment called Mountain Jack's has now turned into a strip club which is right next to the Holiday Inn and in the parking lot of the local mall. Talk of budget cuts and staff cuts where heavy in the air at the church my parents still attend. The local paper was pushing the issue of opening casinos in the state to be a quick fix for the economy. Afterall, it was estimated in the article that Ohioans spend about 1 billion dollars at casinos just over the boarder in all the surrounding states. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that many of the good jobs that were in the North have either headed overseas or down South and West. So is it fair to prey on the down-and-out economy that many Ohioans find themselves in order to justify gambling? (I know, that is another topic for another day.)

It just seems whenever I go back to my hometown, my old-self is waiting there at the boarder of town ready to meet back up with me and help me recall my feelings, thoughts, anger and frustration of an earlier stage of growing up. Maybe it is because I work with teens all the time so when I go back into the environment of which I grew up as a teen my mind instantly compares and contrasts what I see today with teenagers as with what I went through.

Why did Jesus say that a prophet is without honor in his hometown? I am sure that those who watched Jesus grow up had a hard time seeing him as a prophet and that there is a lot of truth to this angle of what Jesus was saying. But is it also just as equally hard for the "prophet" to fully be who he is as an adult when he steps back into the town he grew up in? It is interesting how Jesus seemed to fully be who he was in every context except his own hometown. Now, was it all the fault of Jesus' audience? Or maybe, just maybe, Jesus had a real hard time going back into that context of which he grew up in, seeing the changes, having his mom talk to him like he is a teenager again, hearing about who has died, seeing those who had so much life and vitality when he was a child now plagued with old age, seeing locations that had significance to him through the stages of growing up - the highs, the lows, the pain, the elation. Just a thought.

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