Going back to go forward.

Nancy and I drove through my old neighborhood. We drove from my old house to my middle school, the route I used to take. At one point, our drive diverged from the path I walked. Now the path is paved, then it was dirt. The distance from one street to the next was only about five early sixties’ ranch houses long. But for me, that path is huge.

As we drove, I remembered the time that I struggled to get my bicycle through the mud because I was running too late to take the long way around. I remembered the time I balanced a chair on my bicycle to get it home. I had built it in shop and it wouldn’t fit in our car. I remembered the time that three or four older kids started throwing snowballs at me as we headed home for lunch. Because the snow was melting, they became mud balls and my jacket was a mess. I remembered one time when there were threats about a fight on one of the mounds of dirt we called “big Nazi hill.”

Those are four incidents I remember. I took that path every morning and evening and many lunches for four years. My friends and I talked a lot on those walks. We laughed a lot. I walked alone sometimes. I wasn’t lonely, I don’t think. I probably read as I walked some of the time.

Four incidents that I tell myself to remember how foolish I was. Four years of community.

What if the four years are what is true?

Paul tells us to think about what is true and noble. We often take that to mean, “Think about the Bible.” I think it also means to let go of the two or three stories we’ve been using to define us and think about the days of life that could describe us more accurately.