There's an old adage that says you can never go home again. The thought behind the saying is quite profound. The idea is that both you and your childhood home will have changed so much in the intervening years that nothing will be quite the same as it once was. There's a lot of truth in that adage. This past week I had the opportunity of returning to the small south Texas town where I grew up--having lived there from the first grade to high school graduation. I discovered that much about the town had indeed changed. The high school I attended no longer exists, having been bulldozed to make room for a brand new facility completed just last year. The old Rialto movie theater has been converted into a center for the performing arts. The town has grown population-wise, as has the school. Current population is 2520 whereas it was only about 2000 when I left there in 1971. Many of the folks that I knew have moved away. Only about 10 or so of our graduating class of 54 students showed up for the all-class reunion. There were very few familiar faces at First Baptist Church on Sunday morning, though it was great to reconnect with a handful whom I remembered.
With all of the changes, some things remained the same. Folks displayed lots of pride in the town's accomplishments as it celebrated 100 years of existence. High school football still rules on Friday nights. Small-town friendliness still characterizes George West as people waved at and greeted each other in passing or as they met at the various centennial gatherings. South Texas barbecue still tastes great as well, though I'm not sure that it rivals Kansas City's version.
One thing going home prompted was lots of reflection about the folks who helped shape my life--my parents, grandparents, extended family, teachers, classmates, pastors, Sunday School teachers and other church leaders, coaches, and many others. I found myself frequently pausing to thank God for their investment in my life. I hope that you'll spend some time thinking in these days about those who helped shape your life as well and that you'll express thanksgiving to God for their part in helping make you who you are today. If they're still living, a card or a phone call could be a wonderful means of catching up and encouraging them as you express thanks for their part in your formation.