Objects in the rearview mirrow are smaller than they appeared...

Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear.

Thought that's true with vehicles and mirrors, I'm not so sure it describes life to a "t". As I've returned home once again for summer vacation almost 18 years since my departure for college, it seems further away than ever. Almost like a different life in many ways. If I were to come up with my little warning, it would go something like this...

Objects in the rearview mirror are smaller than they appeared.

Everywhere I go and everything I see from my past is much smaller and much less signifigant that I assumed it was as a child. My childhood home is a little dive down on 45 W. Van Buren St crammed together with other low income houses on a rinky dink city block down by the Coast Gaurd. We drove past it today with the girls and the porch was caving in on one side. It looked as if it were about to tip over from years of exhaustion. The neighborhood, that felt like a universe to me when I was a child, couldn't have been more puny and paltry. Everything was so underwhelming and ghetto. And yet, when I was small boy, I walked out my frontdoor every morning amazed at the magnitude of my surroundings.

We then drove past the little league "field of dreams" where I had my baptism by fire in competetive sports. I used to think it was just shy of the "big leagues", grass cut and infield dirt graded to perfection. I would run out onto the pitching mound feeling like a golden glover, a bonified All-Star. But today it looked like a run down pasture, unkept and shabby as all get out. Everything about it screamed budget-cuts and bush-league. It was sad, really.

Brietbeck Park that seemed like Central Park to me back in the day is really a little open field with some paved trails and the bell tower that I imagined to be the Liberty Bell is really a little steel encasement with a smaller bell, more for look than function. The harbor that it overlooks, Wright's Landing, used to feel like a Marina that sprawled out for miles on end. In reality it's nothing more than a boat landing with some docks and a building for restrooms. I remember thinking it felt like the New York Harbor, what with the Lighthouse and breakwalls and Fort Ontario across the river. When I was little, everything was epic, bigger than life itself.

As we made our way back home, we drove past my old church, Southwest Oswego Baptist Church. It was also home to the Christian School I attended for 13 years under the leadership of my parents, Chuck and Philena Holdridge. "The Lighthouse on the Hill" as it was titled on the church sign. Some lighthouse it is today. After two church splits, it sits sterile and benign, like a historical building for tourists to frequent. The parking lot is always empty. The attendence, rumor has it, is about 18-20 and that's only because half the church is blood relatives with the pastor. KJV only, Seperationist, Independant Baptist, Militant Fundamental hard core zealots. Man, it's sad. As I slowed down to take in the old stomping grounds, the place where I was shaped and misshaped both, the place that provided employment for my parents and consequently put food on our table, the place where we played kickball in the parking lot and foursquare in the break room, the place where we had chapel every Wednesday, the place where I graduated with honors in a whoping class of 3, the place that served as my second home and my parent's first love stood there barren and banal as an abandoned school house, rich in history but poor in present.

What felt so huge as I was growing up, now feels so ridiculously marginal. Every object in the rearview mirror looks smaller than it appeared, save one.

My parents.

The further I go and the older I get they are the only piece of my history that seems to loom all the larger as I move forward. Every year sheds new light on how big they lived in those early years of my life and all that they sacrificed to provide for my every need. They are the unique part of my past that never seems to grow old or get smaller. Their contribution to my history is only multiplying exponentially as I pick up speed. And for that I'm eternally grateful.

The cool thing is that even if everything I used to enshrine is really nothing more than rubbish, it still holds a value to me that can't be measured. I've heard it said that nostalgia is nothing more than a combination of a good imagination and a bad memory. That may be true, but regardless, nostalgia is thick when I revisit the places and people of my past. I revel in the opportunity to come home even if certain parts surface a sadness. God has been very good to me.

Tomorrow I am preaching at my father's church, Calvary Baptist Church, in Fulton, N.Y., the first church that let me come and preach for a month when I graduated Baptist Bible College. I filled in while the pastor had a gastric bypass (he had to weight in at about 450). And now, 14 years later I'm coming back to the place where I got my start, where I cut my teeth so to speak. And though much has changed, really, underneath it all, I'm very much the same. A young man with alot of hangups and habits that needs God's grace to cover him every second of the day. And as I stand before the people tomorrow, I will hide under the cloak of Jesus' sufficiency as I did way back when.

Yeah, way back when.


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