My son and daughter-in-law gave me a wonderful birthday card this weekend. It is one of these booklets that gives a "Remember When . . . 1949." I had fun looking over it for a day or two and then wavered from feeling very old to being truly nostalgic. The booklet begins by saying "The richness of life lies in the memories we have forgotten." I’m not so sure. Some things should be forgotten.
In my birth month the first automatic street lights were used in New Milford, CT. The first Polaroid camera was sold in 1949 for $89.95, a very high price at the time. And the first practical rectangular television tube was announced in Toledo, OH. RCA released its first 45 rpm single record that year and developed a system for color television, which didn’t become feasible until about a decade later. Rock music, as such, was still a few years away.
In world news the Soviet Union conducted it first A-bomb test as the arms race began to speed up in earnest. Mao became the leader of China and millions of people died in a civil war. NATO was formed and the Geneva Conventions were enacted. Harry Truman was president and Alben Barkley was vice-president. All the King’s Men won the Academy Award for best film in 1949 and Ronald Reagan, still a long way from entering politics, starred in the movie The Girl from Jones Beach.
I share my birth year with famous sorts like Bruce Springsteen, Richard Gere, Jessica Lange and Meryl Streep. "Big deal," you say. But then when I consider how old they all look to me I realize how old I am.
Nostalgia is a longing to go back to one’s home, or going back to some time far away. All of us experience it. I felt some of it this week but what I long for far more than going back is going forward into deeper faith. I want to look back, now and then, but primarily to see the hand of God upon my life. What he has begun in me, by grace alone, will be completed. I rest in this, not in the past or in the year of my birth.