“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.” (Corrie Ten Boom)

There are certain things that make me forget that I am in the present.  A scent of some long forgotten perfume, a song I’ve not heard in ages, or a crisp Fall day.  I think maybe it’s the amazing Fall weather we’ve been having the past few days.  Somehow, I have managed to get stuck in the past.  Al Steward used to have a song called “Time Passages”. I think it described this feeling well, though the only part of the lyrics I can remember is “there’s something back there that I left behind”.  That rings true for me.

Every year, about this time, I have some wild urge to just up and drive into the sunset, quite literally.  I live on the East Coast, and I have an almost uncontrollable desire to go to Albuquerque.  That’s really not so odd, since I was born and raised in New Mexico, and Albuquerque is one of my all-time favorite places.  And this time of year, I can practically hear the Indian Drums beating at the Fairgrounds, and I can all but taste the Indian Fry Bread.  Ohhhhhh. . . and the breakfast burritos.  There is no substitute!  I can imagine that the balloons are starting to make their appearances more regularly, until they come together in an amazing crescendo of color next month at the International Balloon Fiesta.

But there are other things I remember, too.  Things that elicit some sort of weird uneasy longing I can’t quite really put my finger on.  Like watching the clouds roll off the Crest of Sandia Peak after a storm.  Or laying beside the pool on a late desert summer afternoon and gazing into the brilliant blue sky (the likes of which can ONLY be seen here in the Blue Ridge Mountains this time of year). Or driving down Osuna, near the golf course just as the Aspens start to turn.

It’s beautiful here, too.  People come from all over the country to see the leaves here in the Fall.  We call them “Leaf Lookers”, and complain about the traffic.  I have to confess that I am a part-time Leaf Looker myself.  But I should be a full-timer.  I don’t ever want to miss God’s glory, and it is surely in full bloom in the mountains of North Carolina in the Fall.  No, the leaves haven’t really started to turn yet.  Just a flash of red or yellow here or there.  But you can feel the chill in the air, and there is a sense of urgency to put up the apples for the Holidays.  Soon, the smell of wood burning stoves and fireplaces will fill the evening air.  And the leaves will blaze with color in a final dance of ecstasy before gently floating to the ground.  God’s glory is rampant in these images, these annual rituals of nature.

So it is I find myself at times like this trying to chase the memory of the dreams I once had, trying to recapture some essence of who I used to be, back when my world was new and every possibility was probable to me.  I was more secure back then, I think.  The kind of security that can only thrive on innocence.  Things seemed so much more simple back then, and my responsibilities were so much more casual.

Now, after almost 20 years of marriage, five pregnancies and three children, I am not so sure about anything as I was then.  I think the one thing I have managed to learn is that I know so little. (Wow. . . saying things like that is a sure sign of aging, isn’t it?) But somehow when I walk outside and feel the chill of an early Fall, some part of my youthful optimism peeks delicately into the reality of my “Now”, and the two merge, for a few brief but glorious moments.

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