Gilland: When reality does not match memories

Rural landscape at sunset
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In the early 1990s, I accompanied my parents (at my Dad’s insistence) on a bit of a treasure hunt. At that time, I lived in Florida, while my parents lived in Indiana. 

They were about to move from their home area, and before they made the trip, my Dad wanted to take Mom and me to his birth area in Western Kentucky, enabling him to search for something that he had heard of all throughout his boyhood—a booty buried by a certain tree, in a field behind one of his relatives’ home. And he knew exactly where it was.

I was unsuccessful in talking him out of this trip, though it all seemed to be a ginormous waste of time. But he had this in his heart, and Mom and I gave in and prepared for the 75-minute trip to his homestead area.

The best part of this experience turned out to be the time spent in the trip there. Dad excitedly told us story after story of his childhood, how he knew the exact spot where this individual had buried some money, and though it had been over 50 years, he couldn’t wait to put a shovel into that soil and at least try to find that buried box.

When we pulled up to the farmhouse, we wondered if anyone was home. I was trying to imagine if the owners—even if they were home—were going to allow this trio traipse through their field with shovel in hand. To my great surprise, the owner and Dad hit it off, and though he was skeptical about Dad’s aim, he gave us a green light for the expedition. 

Dad was elated, so the three of us began to move toward the field that separated us from the forest edge, where Dad remembered being as a young man. The brush in that field was way too thick for my Mom, who decided she would wait back at the car while we climbed the fence and began walking.

What happened next was something I will never forget. Dad suddenly stopped walking, and he could not hide the confused look on his face. 

“Everything looks different,” he said. 

In that moment, all those years of wondering, imagining and planning this trip came to a screeching halt. 

“Nothing looks the same,” he said. “I don’t recognize a single piece of that tree line.”

Greatly disappointed, Dad turned around and said, “Let’s go home.” He didn’t even want to continue our hike to see the area more closely. He had completely lost his vision of that memory.

Landscapes change with time, and this experience was a graphic reminder that most things don’t stay the same. They grow, they age, and they change, just like we do ourselves.

This is why we need to fix our eyes on what is unchangeable, and the only thing in all of life that fits that description is God. In James 1:17, we read:

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

Our faith is like an unchanging rock, something to which we can always run and find comfort and peace. 

I treasure those memories of that day, even if we didn’t find the buried booty. Sometimes the greatest treasure is found within the journey itself.

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