“Time it was and what a time it was,
It was a time of innocence, a time of confidences
Long ago, it must be, I have a photograph
Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you”
Long ago . . . It must be . . .
I returned to a place of innocent memories and naïve confidences. Oh . . . is it that long ago?
Santa Cruz, California, a beach town, surf town, USA. Young marrieds, young parents, very tight budgets and simple fun. We had life by the tail but little did we know what was to come.
Twenty-three years later, parents of young adult and adult children, six of us sit around the table sharing our stories since we last saw each other. Our stories all vary but the similarity is life is not what we expected. The twenty-three year long journey has one common bond, twists, turns, curves and bumps and for this we are seasoned, wiser and softer.
Lighthouse Christian Fellowship, that’s who we were. A young church made up of surfers, ex-addicts, building contractors, a weatherman, electricians, self-employed; blue collar workers making ends meet, barely. The pastor was a young man with a type A personality and a heart for the down and outers, in other words, the lost, and boy, were some of us lost! Church was come as you were, just out of the ocean from an early morning surf, bare foot and scraggly hair. It didn’t matter how you came, Barney had a message to deliver and we wanted to hear it. Lighthouse was our family, our eclectic family and we loved each other, supported one another, had marriages and babies together and marriages fell apart and children died. It was innocent yet it was complicated; we were confident and not broken – yet.
Time passed and people left, some to other churches, others moved to new places. A new church was planted, two churches were planted, both churches fell apart. Marriages were tested and marriages fell apart, people’s faith was tested and their faith fell apart. The labors of life began to knead itself into us; the pressing and stretching and folding and mixing of life and it’s struggles and boredoms and victories.
Twenty-three years later we share a collective sigh and in that exhale I hear, “It hasn’t been that easy.” We share divorce, children with eating disorders, alcoholism and rehab, cancer, children off to college and return before finishing to reside with us once again, we are a bit burned out on the discipline of church attendance and involvement; I hear a shared enduring and persevering but I also hear humility, wisdom and softer women.
And once the sigh is exhaled and empathy is shared and our pain is relieved, our laughter begins. The healing properties of laughter from the very core of our beings; we can’t control ourselves and we slap the table and tears roll down our cheeks – just like yesteryear and boy, did we laugh in our yesteryear! The dress-up parties we held, the silly stunts we did, the innocent mischief that brought levity to our early years of marriage and parenting. We were responsible women yet we were also untainted by the weight of life and we expressed our free spirits unhindered. Crazy.
As I look around the table I see women who I loved and I find, I still love. I realize that these women watered the young roots of my undefined tree in those earlier years; they all played an important role in helping me to develop into the woman I am today. They invested in me and they deposited in me, I hope they saw their reflection in me.
We can’t keep life as it was no matter how hard we try. Life is perpetual and doesn’t slow down. (Funny, or maybe not, in how we are beginning to take care of our parents . . .) But would we have wanted life to stop twenty-three years ago?
In looking back it does seem so innocent and simple and we were confident and full of ourselves – or were we? As the saying goes, we really were diamonds in the rough and I don’t think any one of us would have wanted to remain that way, in the rough. Life chipped away at us and our diamond began to take on many facets that reflected and refracted the ongoing presence of God. As one woman put it after being asked how did she keep her faith in God after such a difficult and unasked for circumstance, she said God is constant.
Yes! That is it! Our rough diamonds began to take on unique beauty because God is constant in our lives and because He is ever present we are able to be chipped and faceted into the woman God desires and purposes us to become and be. And in a twenty-three year long period we went from a rough diamond to one of unique beauty and our worth has grown immeasurably so.
Time it was and what a time it was, It was a time of innocence, a time of confidences . . .
A time to remember and a time to cherish, a time to look back on and reflect. I am full of gratitude for what was and what is. Time did not rob us, time seasoned us and our memories are now preciously shared in the reliving of our tales. Our love for one another did not change but I find it thicker. Can love be dense or solid? Can it be described in such a way? As God is constant, so I find our love for one another is constant. Life knocked us around, but our friendships will always be a safe harbor of acceptance and refuge.
To forever friendship! To Sue and Tina and Laura and Vicki and Ellen! And I also include forever friendships with Pam and Collete!
song lyrics: Old Friends by Simon and Garfunkle
Pleasure Point photo credit: click here