When I was growing up, I think my favorite day of the week was Saturday. It was the only day that didn’t have a schedule of things that needed to be done. I remember waking up with the sunlight of early day brightening and warming the out-of-doors. Even if I liked the things that needed doing on other days, like going to school or church or visiting my aunts, uncles, and cousins, being completely free of commitments held an appeal all its own. On Saturday morning, my homework was behind me and my chores were hurriedly completed. Then the day opened before me, filled with sunlight and the promise of adventure.
My boyhood friends lived only a few doors down on the same block. Almost every Saturday we plunged into some sort of adventure. We read, collected comic books and baseball cards, played baseball, explored the neighborhood, swam, went to movies (50 cents a ticket), rode bikes to the village main street and browsed the shops. At that time there were still orchards and fields just across the street to the north of the house I lived in. (They’ve all been built over now, of course.) There were walnut trees to climb. There was an old house with an acre or two that long predated the neighborhood I grew up in. The Suarez family lived there. I became friends with Daniel Suarez, the oldest child and only boy in the family, and we occasionally played in the overgrown acreage behind his house, and toured the henhouse that was old, disused, and ruinous even at that time.
Along the major street was a double row of pomegranate trees. We could walk between the rows, and the branches of the trees met overhead so that we moved along inside a tunnel of thick growth.
Looking back on those Saturdays of decades ago, I am sure that there is a patina of idealism that memory puts on them. That’s okay. It’s part of my current enjoyment. I do not live in the past to the exclusion of enjoying the present, but my memories enrich the past experience for the continued enjoyment of it in the present. C. S. Lewis wrote in Out of the Silent Planet that “A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.” It does not necessarily have to be remembered accurately or completely.
A few weeks ago I added to my prayer list the name of every friend I can remember, beginning from childhood up to the present, even though I have no idea now where most of them are or even if they are still alive. There are a little more than a hundred names on the list. It continually astounds me that I am as old as I am—just fifteen months short of turning 60. I still feel young, and my physical capabilities have diminished only a little. It feels to me as if I have been in my twenties for almost forty years. Yet my memories go back a long way. And to think that I have another thirty or forty years to go!
We human beings were created to live in eternity, but because of our exile from God’s immediate presence, we live in time. However, deep inside we somehow remember the heights from which we have fallen. Therefore we shall always have a sense of not being completely “at home” in this life. There will always be something uncomfortable about our lives, for they are filled with transitory things. It's as if we are living out of suitcases.
Today, however, it is Thursday in Easter Week. I have taken most of the week off as compensation time for the rigorous schedule of Holy Week. Today is the first day of this week I woke up without any responsibilities, appointments, major chores, or schedule. It was very nearly like a Saturday of half a century ago. Then the day opened before me, filled with warm sunlight, light breezes, and the promise of adventure. I suspect that when I am 90, I shall still feel the same way.