Summer’s going fast, nights growing colder
Children growing up, old friends growing older
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
Experience slips away…
The innocence slips away
—Rush, “Time Stand Still”
The family had gathered around the TV at my parent’s home to watch Brave. The cousins were all laying in front of the rather old, small, and definitely non-HD screen in the living room. The adults were mostly watching various screens…cell phones, iPads, Kindles…listening to the movie in the background and smiling at the attempts at Scottish accents coming from sprawl in front of the TV.
Just about the time we had all settled in for the evening, the power went out. Pitch black darkness was met with groans from the kids (all done with new found Scottish drawls.) My dad quickly lit the “coal oil lamp” and placed it on the mantel. As the children began to move around, searching for their own personal screens (iPods, phones, etc.), my sister-in-law gave us all a wonderful gift. She asked, “Uncle Mike, what was you and Aunt Susie’s first date?” That question began an evening of story telling around the pale flickering light of an old coal oil lamp.
We went around the circle telling first date stories which led to engagement stories. The children joined in by telling “most embarrassing” stories. Then my parents began to tell stories about their childhood and their parents and grand parents. Laughter came quickly and often. Questions were asked. Experiences were shared. Deep “family” conversation made the time fly by. Mom talked about how the flickering light of the lamp brought back memories of her and her brothers sitting around the same type of lamp as children listening to her mom and dad and an occasional visitor tell stories. Memories came rushing back for me as a kid sitting on the screen porch in the evenings listening to my grandfather pick out a tune on his guitar and tell some of those very same stories.
It was hard to believe that 2 hours had passed so quickly when the lights finally came back on. “Normal” filled the room as quickly as the lights had and we all moved toward our beds, plugging our electronic devices into their respective chargers so they would be ready to do our bidding (or we their’s) the next morning. I’m restraining the sermon rising in my spirit. We all know that sermon already. I will say this…in contrast to the many evenings spent on some forgettable TV program or surfing the internet, this was an evening I’ll remember for a long time. It was truly wonderful and a very fitting end to a wonderful holiday season.