Years ago the Beatles wrote a song titled, "In My Life." In the opening verse they sing: "There are places I remember; all my life though some have changed. Some forever, not for better; some have gone but some remain. All these places had their moments; with lovers and friends I still can recall. Some are dead and some are living; in my life I've loved them all." This is, I believe, one of the Beatles most beautiful and meaningful songs. It reminds me that there are places and people in my life which I remember and treasure as well.
It has been 17 years since we have been to Red River, New Mexico. We used to go and camp their regularly when our children were small. But as the children became adults, our camping days came to an end and we began vacationing in Winter Park, Colorado. This year, however, along with daughter Beth, we took a week of our vacation and stayed in Taos and Red River. High on our list for the week was a return visit to our favorite camping ground which is about 10 miles outside of Red River and is called Columbine. It is semi-primitive camping, but the setting is beautiful and the hiking trail is just the right skill level for us. We couldn't wait to start up the trail. Little did we know the memories that would surface or the emotions we would experience as we approached the first bridge...
When we were younger we would hike all the way up to the 4th bridge. But this year a hike to the 1st bridge was enough. As we took pictures by the bridge and as Kristi and Beth walked barefoot into the stream, stories began to be shared, "Remember the year...." It was clear to us that this was a place where many wonderful life experiences were shared and the memories we still have are of fun, wonderful, and blessed family times.
As the people of Israel were crossing the Jordan River into the Promised land, they were instructed by God to place "stones of remembrance" in the middle of the stream. At other key points along their journey they had built "monuments" so that in years to come they might remember that God had worked mightily on their behalf. The fact of the matter is: we all need places which remind us of happy times, family times, and times when God has richly blessed our lives. Are there places in your life which you remember?
For me, I remember the night I prayed to receive Christ - on the front porch of the Freedom House coffeeshop in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. I remember the Chinese restaurant where I asked Kristi to marry me after a meal enduring the "antics" of an intoxicated customer sitting at the table next to us. I remember the attorney's office where Elizabeth was brought into us and placed in Kristi's arms - the first step of our taking custody of and eventually adopting our daughter. I could go on and on.
Many of the important places in my life, as the Beatles mention, have changed - but some remain. One of the places that remains is the hiking trail at Columbine campground. We will forever treasure memories of wonderful times there. But mostly we will give thanks, that God has blessed us with friends, places, and people that remind us that our journey in life has truly been a wonderful gift from God.
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.