I had a flashback sitting in church a couple of Sundays ago — a thirty-six year-old flashback. I was with my husband in the small church we attend when we are in the mountains of North Carolina. The church we both attended growing up in Florida was only slightly larger.
The flashback occurred between the second and third stanzas of the hymn we were singing. At that point, the choir director called for the ushers to come forward to prepare to collect the offering. Two gentlemen holding brass offering plates walked in tandem to the front of the church. One of them said a prayer before they began collecting the offering during the offertory hymn.
That Was Then
I smiled as a sweet memory flooded my mind — a handsome, young usher walking to the front of a different small church. It was the summer of 1982 and I was a recent college graduate. I was back in my hometown, settling in and looking for a job. My parents welcomed me home and I continued to worship in the small Baptist church of my childhood and youth.
There was this one particular usher who caught my eye. He was always dressed so nice in his sports coat and tie. At the appointed time in the music, he, along with three other men, would walk down the aisle of the church with the offering plates. I would try to position myself on aisle to get a better glimpse of him and also so I could take the offering plate from his hands. Perhaps my hand would brush against his. It was a highlight of the week.
I knew him, he took over the job of leading the college and career group of less than ten from his sister. His family connected with mine — his parents and my grandparents were close friends. I knew of him but didn’t really begin to know him until the summer of 1982. That’s when it all started. We had our first date in July and were married about two years later.
This Is Now
We just spent a few weeks in the mountains of North Carolina, soaking up the changing colors and enjoying the cooler temperatures. It was a welcomed reprieve from the heat of Florida. (I think we may be turning into those people who live part of the year in Florida and part of the year in North Carolina.) After nearly thirty-five years of marriage, you might say we are in the autumn of our lives. I thought about that a lot this year.
That’s ok with me. There are wonderful things about autumn. It’s vibrant, rich and cozy. It’s long walks and time with friends and family. It’s slower than summer and not brand-new like spring. Autumn is a time of reflection and gratitude, a time when we remember the things that make us thankful.
I am thankful for that sweet memory of my twenty-one year-old self and the handsome young usher.
Where do your thoughts go in autumn? What are you thankful for this autumn?