Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Going home

Before I was an Okie I lived in Wichita, Kansas. We moved when I was about 10. We had lived in Wichita for about 7 years. I still remember some things, but most of it is a blank.

Lisa and I took a romantic reconnecting weekend away to, of all places, Wichita. A lot of it had to do with connecting with an internet friend as well as nostalgia.

Let me first say that we stayed at a fantastic bed and breakfast. The College Hill Bed and Breakfast is nestled away in central Wichita. You can get anywhere relatively quickly from there. The house itself has been beautifully remodeled and offers three rooms as of now. We stayed in the Tropical Room. It is a warm and cozy room with a separate bath and huge closet. It is decorated in African stylized animal prints with greens and browns. The bathroom has a tropical feel with palm fronds and a rain shower shower head. The breakfasts that were prepared for us were fresh and very tasty. Even through I'm not a fruit nut, there was enough to fill us both up to energize our days' activities.

I would highly recommend the College Hill Bed and Breakfast.

Now on to the trip itself. Going to Wichita always plays tricks with my mind. I remember so little about living here. But what I do remember is vivid in my mind. I remember two of the houses we lived in. I remember the school where I attended 1st through 3rd grade. I remember places and events very clearly. I remember so clearly that I can locate them even though I have been gone for 20+ years.

But the mind has a way of storing memories that don't reflect accurately. The entire city seemed so much bigger in my memory. The school was a lot bigger also. And then there is change. 20 years offers a lot of opportunity to change. "My" school isn't the same. It was closed and sold to a private institution. The candy store I used to visit on the walk back to the babysitter is now moved. The homes I lived in are more run down. Life changes those wonderful memories and transforms reality as well.

In our faith walks we encounter something very similar. We experience powerful movements of God's presence in our lives and it leaves a mark on us. But as time and life progresses, that moment in time is transformed. But many times our nature is to preserve that moment. This happens with many youth who attend camps. They want to re-experience that moment in time where God did something powerful. So they return to re-experience it only to discover that it cannot be repeated.

It is our nature to desire to hold on to those powerful experiences. It happened for Peter, James, and John when they went up on a mountain top with Jesus. Luke 9:28-33. Peter and the others see Jesus changed before their eyes and encounter the living spirits of Moses and Elijah. Peter's response is to build booths or tabernacles to commemorate the event and to honor Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. Peter wanted to hold on to the experience with a place to return and remember what happened.

But what would have happened had those booths or shrines had been built? Would they have been a reminder of the real, living experience within Peter? Or would they have become sacred sites hollow of true meaning? The experience wasn't located in the place but within the people. For Peter, God moved in him. God didn't just move around Peter. But was real within his heart and mind. The moment of the Transfiguration was to be carried within Peter.

Just as those experiences we have with God are to be carried forward. They shape who we are. They transform us to become the person God desires us to become. They are integrated into our life stories. But they are not the end or the point to our lives. God is our end and our purpose.