I’m beginning to feel like the grumpy old man who complains about what kids these days are watching and listening to, rambling on about how none of it is as good in quality as what we had. I suppose it’s inevitable in a way. All of my holiday gift cards are being spent on television shows from the 90’s and mid-00’s, when we were first married. Objectively, some of it is bad (mostly the 90’s stuff, but honestly, you really can’t help but dig that dystopian, post-apocalyptic vibe), but some of it was really good. In any case, it’s been taking most of my free time this winter.
This nostalgia thing is becoming serious.
In a sense, it’s a sign, not a symbol, and it points back to some really fun times that we had in our early marriage. I’m sure that it’s normal to reminisce about “back before we had kids,” so I can’t be alone in this. I also remember…and miss…our faith community and friends from those days. We were still living in the city where we had gone to grad school, and still had many of those connections. We were very active in the arts, in our faith community, and full of optimism for the future. For whatever reason, it’s much more difficult to make those tight friendships in New England. It’s also exponentially more difficult to find a faith community in New England. As we have searched for both, I’ve found myself missing those days of 10 + years ago much more profoundly, which I think has been informing my nostalgic memory trips.
Our local faith community had a theatre group in which we were leaders, and it took so much of our time. I loved every moment of it, but eventually, we just burned out. We were so busy, all the time, and we needed a sabbath time to refresh ourselves, to take a break, to think about things. That was ultimately only a year or so before we moved away, although that wasn’t the plan then, but I remember this painful realization when our stepping away for a time to recharge wasn’t received well. We began going to other faith communities to get some time away, and found ourselves viewed as pariahs by some in the one that we had attended. It was painful.
Shortly after Christmas festivities were over this year, there was conversation about how our extended family has always remained close, regardless of distance and regardless of faith communities attended. The comment was made that we are uncommon in that sense, that the experience we had 10 years is far more common. That’s troubling to me.
I understand it, though. A local church has so much to keep up with, so many needs to meet, and it exists to focus on those needs, those people. It’s easy to de-prioritize anything outside of that sphere. In that way, while it’s easier now than ever to stay in touch with friends who live far away, it’s not common to talk to them every day as you once did. The typical experience that I’ve had, however, is that moving away is the equivalent of leaving an employer on bad terms. That’s indicative of a deep-rooted misperception of how the Church was designed to work.
I still view myself as belonging to the same Church as all of those dear friends from years ago, even though their ministry focus is different than mine now. My ecclesiological position (and I don’t think it’s so revolutionary), is that there is only one Church, and that all of us who follow Christ are part of it. I don’t think that means that we’re under some sort of artificial obligation to stay in close touch with people who move on to other faith communities, but I also don’t think that we’re under an artificial obligation to cut ties with them, and it’s the second case that I’ve observed happen frequently in my life.
I supposed maybe I’m sensitive to this because we’ve moved a lot. A discontented wanderlust seems my burden to bear. As we’ve lived in different parts of the country and have seen how other Believers express our common faith, it’s expanded my view of our relationship with God dramatically. I’m hopeful for a day when I can stay in touch easily with others if we move on again.
Even better, I’m hopeful for a day when I re-connect with those dear friends from my past.
That would be truly nostalgic.