I STILL remember the day they pulled down my grandmother’s house. I saw the final moments as a bulldozer violently smashed through, turning the old front wall into rubble.
My grandmother’s long gone. Decades ago, after she left the little house, new owners converted it into one of those chic, inner-city brothels, then it lay uninhabited and derelict for years.
I lived around the corner and there was something comforting about passing by the house every morning. It evoked memories of family gatherings in a home that always seemed to be bustling, of cooking smells, warmth. love and hugs; of a grandmother who loved having her brood around her.
My grandmother bought the house after her husband died too young. It was in this house that Ruby, the young widow without much money raised three daughters and a son. It was in the surrounding streets that my mother first met my father. Growing up, my sister and I loved being in that house. It was a home.
So the place represented a lot of history. Its demolition was a jarring reminder that there are some things we can’t hold onto forever. Not in a physical sense anyway.
Of course, nostalgia can be deceptive. Will Rogers said:“Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never were’’.
Historian Owens Pomeroy said: “Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect.’’
Still, letting go is not easy, even though there’s a power in it sometimes.
The Book of Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything. The worldy stuff _ homes, jobs, wealth, illusions _ will all pass away eventually and we will move into something abiding and eternal.
We tend to think of letting go in terms of loss, and sometimes it is, but just as often it is a gain.
I remember anxieties about letting go when I became a Christian. I was concerned about giving up control and of losing the essence of me. It seemed to require a fearful sinking into dark waters. And in some ways it was exactly that.
But, as theologian Frederick Buechner said, we become something new by ceasing to be something old. Every time we let go of something limiting, we create space for something better. Letting go is Gods law. It is simple wisdom with divine potential.
Surrendering seems tough. It conjures up images of defeat and shame in our “take charge of your own life’’ culture. The world values youth, wealth and 15 minutes of fame and urges us to consume to make it happen.
Drugs, diets and cosmetic surgery promise to keep us young, healthy and happy but it’s all an illusion. Almost everything is impermanent and ungraspable
We know it is difficult to let go, but in truth, it is more difficult and painful to try to hold on and grasp forever.
Sometimes it is necessary for God to stir our lives and remove our comfort zones so we are able to fit into His Kingdom.
But I’ll still miss my grandmother’s house.