“Memories exploded as I stood in the doorway”
* * * *
It was the early seventies, and our congregation was considering the possibility
a new church building.
The building at The Heights in Houghton Lake was old and too small for the growing congregation. In addition, the basement often flooded in the spring of the year. Sunday School class attendance was increasing. The choir was small but more singers were starting to join.
Our neighboring town had recently built a beautiful new church.
A committee in our church, seeking ideas, was formed.
“Let’s go to West Branch
and check out their new building.”
Of course I wanted to be on that committee.
The new church was in my former home town.
Any excuse to re-visit the memories of my youth, was a great idea. I was thirty-three at the time.
The new United Methodist Church in West Branch
was built on the County Farm property
across the street
from the house where I’d lived
until I was seventeen.
If you’ve read in my blog post
“Banished But Not Forever”
you have some idea of my emotional attachment
to the County Farm.
I have many memories of the wonderful lady
who was my friend.
As memories exploded, I stood alone. The committee entered the new church building and we were shown the kitchen area and the classrooms.
We visited the sanctuary and the dining area.
As the others wandered the hallways,
I decided to take a little side trip. Toward the end of a hallway, there was an exit door.
Standing quietly, staring out the door, long forgotten memories were suddenly returning.
I’d stood in this place many times.
It appeared to me as though this doorway was exactly where the entrance to Mrs. Kelly’s kitchen had been. I had entered through it many times when visiting my friend.
It really didn’t matter if the building’s blueprints showed my estimate of the location to be incorrect. This was a view I’d seen many times before. (Was that the aroma of homemade bread?)
when in town, I often drive into the parking area and set for a few minutes; remembering.
The location of this beautiful church, offers me memories of pleasant days gone by.
There was and is,
an oil well pump on the East side of the parking lot.
The old barn bridge is often visible, depending on the time of year and how many leaves are remaining on the trees.
The barn is gone, but remains in memory, as does the chicken coop and the pasture where the sheep were kept.
I remember Mr. Kelly
driving his team past our house
on his way to the hay fields.
at the North end of the parking area,
is the West Branch Township Hall.
It hasn’t aged.
I have…a little.
On the day of our committee’s visit,
I could feel emotion rising in my throat. Glad I was standing at the door to my memories alone; I couldn’t have spoken to anyone right then.
Memory was taking me back
to a time in my life
of great happiness and joy.
As we were returning to our home town,
I casually mentioned to my fellow travelers my experience standing by the door at the end of the hall.
No one seemed overwhelmed by my revelations.
Should they have been?
A few days later,
traveling to a meeting with my Dad,
I began to share my experience
of the treasured memories of the County Farm and the return of them at the doorway of the church.
Once again, I found it difficult to speak.
Regaining my composure,
I shared with my Dad my emotions at the time.
He listened attentively; then began to share his thoughts with me.
“Most people encounter experiences such as you had,
as they grow older and their lives have changed,” he said.
“They remember the joys of youth.
They remember folks who were important to them who have either passed on or are no longer living nearby.”
“Buildings they remember have often been removed by deterioration
or replaced by new construction.”
“You are young
to be having such memories overtake you.”
Today, when I’m visiting the town of my youth,
I’m still making memories.
The doorway to my future is open.
Life for me is still experienced
one day at a time
Have you stood in a doorway lately?
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matt.6:21)
Photography By Mary Anne Tuck