July 7, 2013 by JesstheMess
The sun was going down on a warm spring day. The grass, lush, green and inviting with the new bike ditched by a tree. Fish’n’chips wrapped in newspaper, tomato sauce, and friends the necessary ingredients for a cosy celebration together. This a birthday celebration, forming warm memories for years to come and evoking feelings of nostalgia for the kiwi picnics of days past.
Nostalgic. Sometimes, we long for the past: for moments we want to remember or recapture. The good times. The golden years. Or perhaps we’re homesick, or longing for something — or someone — that might have been.
This weeks photo challenge over at wordpress is to share a picture that makes you nostalgic.
Here in New Zealand, where we refer to ourselves as Kiwi’s, fish’n’chips wrapped in newspaper are a bit of a cultural icon. These deep fried potatoes and battered fish with tomato sauce are a world away from the fries and ketchup we hear about on T.V. This is fast food, a cheap and easy meal that can be eaten anywhere. You stop into the roadside shop, place your order, 6 Fish and $5 chips thanks, and wait to receive your bundle nicely wrapped in paper.
This packaging, inner layer clear newsprint, outer layer actual newspapers, serves many purposes. It can be unwrapped to form it’s own picnic rug, pieces can be torn off to create plates, the outer layer can be read, given insight into times past… And then at the end, everything can be wrapped in this packaging to be disposed of at the nearest rubbish bin.
This simple photo memory can evoke feelings of nostalgia for many special times in the past. I have memories of good times eating fish’n’chips with family and friends round the table, watching movies, in the car, on the roadside, by a river, on the beach, in a park… However, no matter how strong those memories of good times are we cannot hold on to them, extend them or even try to relive them. If examined more closely, these moments are special, not because of the fish’n’chips nor the venues but because of the relationships they represent.
Paul, the apostle, in the book of Philippians recognises that all that has been in his past, all that has contributed to who he is, has not brought him to what is important…
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Nostalgia can trap us, hold us, living trying to re-create moments from the past. Yet at the same time, nostalgia can point us to treasures, relationships worth investing in, or great ways to spend time together. Relationships are worth investing in, because relationships are forever. Many things are ours for this earth only, but our relationship with God and with others goes beyond now.
I guess the key lies in where our focus is. Like Paul, I need to remember that my prize is ahead, that nothing that has been will compare to the treasures that are in store in an eternal future with my Lord and Saviour. Longing for days past will not prepare me for the days ahead, but glimpses back can remind us of important things on our journey forward.
Fish’n’chips wrapped in newspaper and tomato sauce are part of the new memories being formed in the lives of our family. We look ahead, treasuring these moments as things to learn from, valuing the fun and relationships they represent but with our eyes fixed forward to a future that far exceeds the lofty memories of days gone by.
© J.Smith Photography and ‘illuminating the invisible’ (2012-2013).