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a/k/a Growing Roots

Move forward. Be in the present moment. Live in the here and now they tell us. So why look back?

Puerto Vallarta 065I’m reminded of a sermon I heard years ago in which the pastor used this familiar analogy:

“There once were two people riding in a wagon — one sat looking forward and one sat looking back. Which way are you going?”

No one wants to go backwards in life. I don’t want to be hooked to a hitching post in the past but if we don’t take time to look back, aren’t we more susceptible to repeating the things we should not repeat? With consequences potentially worse the second go round?

If we don’t remember, what we have forgotten becomes separate from us. Remembering brings the past into the present where it can serve as a guide post to move us forward. I want to know what happened before me — to understand my roots from a cultural context as well as personal and bring it into the present. As I write and record, I discover mystery unknown, courage underestimated, and the faith it took for both.

I can also see how what was needed to complete a project or get through a situation was provided at the proper time — something often difficult to catch when you’re in the midst of it. It needs space to understand. I’ll use Mom’s neighbor as an example and call her Lillian.

Lillian didn’t have family around and scheduled her days purposefully with visits to friends. She often asked Mom to do things but this was when Mom’s health was waning and her pain bad, so she would have to decline. It bothered her and finally one afternoon, feeling a bit better than most, she said,

“How about I come up for a cup of tea with you Lillian?”

“I don’t cook.”

“We just need to boil some water.”

“I don’t have a kettle.”

“Well, do you have a pan we could boil it in?”

“Yeah.  I don’t have tea cups.”

“I’ll bring the cups, the tea and some lemon bars.”


When Mom got there, she found a shelf full of tea cups and a kettle in the cupboard. Lillian may have gotten so involved with thinking about what she didn’t have that she lost sight of what she did. Or maybe she just didn’t use her kitchen much. How often is it that we miss what we need when it’s right in front of us? That takes living in the present. But how in looking back, can we see that in our lives, even though it didn’t seem so at the time, all was well — and be guided, encouraged.

The past grounds us as we live in the present and are sensitive to the future.

When Mom called to tell me the story of Lillian she laughed until she cried. I remember, hear it and I feel her laugh in my bones. I bring the past to life in the present and smile.

Baby spider from my mom's original plant. Lesson: see how a plant let's its roots grow

Baby spider from my mom’s original plant

Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created man on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Deuteronomy 4:37

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