My oldest daughter recently said of Halloween, “Having kids really breathes new life into the holidays…” I wholeheartedly agree. I went to a family gathering last night to see nieces, nephews and grandchildren ready to go out trick-or-treating. I could not help remembering my own girls frantically eating a quick meal so they could hit the streets and start the fun of the holiday. A gentle wave of nostalgia hit me. I enjoyed it for a moment, then I began gathering in and capturing as many memories of this new generation as I could gather. There is something wonderful about watching the joy and wonder, the awe and thrill of something new, through the eyes of a child. The frivolous thrill of Halloween was a delight to all ages.
I recently read an article on nostalgia and faith on the website: MinistryMatters.com by Mike Poteet. It was a fascinating foray into how the brain responds to nostalgia, the history of its study and how nostalgia plays out in both good and bad ways in the church and in scripture. Poteet reminds us that as a people of faith, scripture calls us to remember the past and the many ways God’s promises have been revealed throughout time. We remember the past not as a means to re-live the past, but as a way to “discern what God is doing in the present and where God wants to lead us in the future.” I am a firm believer that God will never call us into the past, for God holds our future in firm hands. God reveals that future to us one moment at a time. We cannot return to our pasts any more than we can keep our children as children forever.
When we remember the past with a sense of nostalgia, it is important to keep in mind that nostalgia prevents us from seeing the entire past. We only remember the parts that brought us joy or seemed perfect to us. When this happens, we run the risk of living in the past rather than living each moment as the gift it truly is. “Whenever our memories of the past make yesterday seem more attractive than today or tomorrow, whenever nostalgia threatens to keep us from moving forward as followers of Jesus or growing into the people God created us to be, that’s when God tells us, “Don’t remember the prior things; don’t ponder ancient history. Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19).”