On August 1st, I spent my 14th anniversary of being pastor at Trinity at one of my favorite places: Wrigley Field, for the annual trip and the new tradition of taking my Logan nephew to a game. But the next day I did something I hadn’t done in at least 20 years: I played golf at the place where I learned to play, Cedardell Golf Course in Plano, IL, my hometown. It was there that I started caddying for my Dad and occasionally hitting a few putts to learning the ethics of the game to learning the rules and how to play and finally falling in love with this game I play as much as I can today. Of course, this was also the place I learned to curse as well (thanks Dad!)
It was amazing the memories that came back as I played my round (not the best either. So there might have been some cursing!). When I was in junior high I played three or four times a week, riding my bike over in the morning as I had a locker at the course. Sometimes I played with some of the old men from the church early in the morning and sometimes with my friends Curtis or Matt. Even now, I love to play a round early in the morning, something born from my youth.
For much of my high school years I didn’t play as much as other sports took priority, but I reconnected to golf in a big way in Seminary and now I can’t imagine not playing. But it all started there in Plano, IL.
While I was in my hometown, I snuck into my high school gym to see a plaque that we put up in honor of my Dad when he passed (the rest of the school has been completely remodeled, but not the gym), swung by the old house (looks exactly the same), and took a drive around town. It was fun to reconnect with my past, to relive old memories, to remember people and places from my youth, to look back for a bit.
But that is the thing: it’s the past. As much as I enjoyed the memories, especially on the golf course, they are just memories. I think the desire to drive back into memory lane was prompted by my 40th birthday, but in the end the place where I grew up no longer exists. It has moved on. I have moved on. Some might say that is sad, but I didn’t feel sad when I left. Sure, I had moments of grief and sadness as I recounted memories of my parents who are now long gone or friends that I don’t see or interact with anymore, but there was no desire to go back to that time. I left feeling content and happy. I was blessed to grow up in Plano, IL, though maybe I didn’t always appreciate it while it was happening. It shaped who I am today and for that I’m grateful.
In every place I have ever lived, there have been good times and bad times. There have been ups and downs. I have forged relationships that have been both live giving and soul draining. But we can’t truly go back to the past because we grow and change and so do the places. It is ok to look back but we can’t wallow in the past. We have to live, to move forward, to take what we learned and experienced and keep moving forward, one day at a time.
I know that I will visit again. I might even tee it up again. I know I’ll go worship at my home church again at some point. And when I do, I’m going to continue to be thankful for the way God guided my life in that place and helped shape me. I’m going to remember. I’m going to give thanks. And I’m going to keep moving forward.