Back in Time
Part of yesterday was spent at a local agricultural/historical museum put together by the The Prairie Tractor & Engine Museum Society. While I wouldn’t say that antique tractors and machinery, farming demonstrations, and “parades of power” are exactly my cup of tea, it was neat to see the way they had put together a kind of old prairie town circa the early 1900s.
There was an old schoolhouse, where we wrote with fountain pens and ink pots, a tiny jailhouse used by the Northwest Mounted Police, a general store, and an old coal mine to go along with the seemingly endless rows of antique machinery. There was even an old church built in 1905—the first Christian Reformed Church in all of Canada apparently. Of course I promptly got my picture taken at the front—probably the closest this Mennonite will ever get to a CRC pulpit, but I digress… :). It was kind of neat, to spend a bit of time, back in time.
One of the interesting things about being back in our hometown is that we are continually bumping into people that we haven’t seen for quite a while. Yesterday at the museum, just after the beef-on-a-bun lunch, I saw two familiar faces that I probably hadn’t seen in fifteen years. Their son was a friend of mine in high school. We were in many of the same classes, played on the same volleyball and hockey teams, went to the same parties, etc. Back in time.
He was also diagnosed with cancer in our grade eleven year, and spent the last two years of high school in and out of hospitals, dealing with the amputation of his arm, fighting back to graduate with the rest of us and be our class valedictorian, before eventually losing his battle with cancer the following year. It was incredibly tragic. For many of us, it was the first time death had come so close to home, and we struggled mightily with how to make sense of this senseless loss.
My conversation with this couple was fairly short. I introduced them to our kids, told them what we had been up to, asked about their daughter, and talked a bit about the events of the day. Fifteen years isn’t that long, but it can also feel almost as far removed from the present as the old tractors and machines and buildings that surrounded us as we talked. A lot can happen in fifteen years. A lot has happened in fifteen years. But unlike the beautifully restored antique machinery all around, their son is still gone. And gone is gone, even after fifteen years.
The Christian hope is for restoration, renewal, re-creation. All things made new. Old and broken down things given the breath of vitality and strength. Ugly things made beautiful and good. False things swallowed up in what is true. Things that have gone, leaving holes that can’t be filled and pain that can’t be expressed, coming back.
Death overcome by life.
All things made new.
It sounds too good to be true. But maybe, just maybe, it’s too good not to be true.