Do you ever wonder if something or someone is as fabulous as you remember? Thirty-five years ago, when Alan was in medical school and we lived in Detroit with two toddlers, we often crossed the Ambassador Bridge into Canada for a respite from the tensions and bustle of big city life. The water front in Windsor is edged with a system of beautiful parks, and we loved to picnic and play with our children under the watchful eye of smiling “bobbies” who carried sticks, not guns…and to admire the striking skyline of Detroit from a respectable distance. We’ve rarely returned since, but Windsor has retained an almost fantasy-like aura from my idealized memories of the beauty and pleasure from the past. My ultimate favorite was Jackson Park and the lush Queen Elizabeth II rose gardens, home to 450 different varieties of roses. So, when Alan said he’d take me anywhere for an overnight, I jumped at the chance to visit Windsor and take a stroll down “Memory Lane,” reliving as many of our old memories as possible! Of course, it wasn’t quite the same without our kids along. We’ve gotten older. But, I guess that’s not all bad…this time we were able to stay at the Hilton. We ate a picnic lunch in the car on the way in order to arrive before sunset. We crossed at about 7:00 pm, and the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as the rumors (although it looked like it was pretty slow by 8:30 pm…see the line of trucks?) The sunset was every bit as beautiful as any I remembered from years gone by and strolling along the Detroit River in the fading light just as romantic as ever. Peace Fountain at Coventry Gardens was just as sublime as ever. (But where were the children? It seemed strangely quiet without children to chase.) After watching the last embers of sunset glowing behind the Renaissance Center, I gave a contented sigh. Everything was just as fantastic in reality as it had been in my memories. However, instead of heading “home” to Detroit, we headed back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep sans babies.The next morning we enjoyed a refreshing swim in their beautiful pool. There was absolutely no one there but us at 8:00 am, and the fitness center overlooked the Detroit skyline, so working out was pretty much sheer pleasure! Now, there’s a change! When you’re young, you get more than all the exercise you need chasing kids, but later on, you have to intentionally train to keep in shape! Oh, dear! Then we undid all our hard work by a nostalgic breakfast of donuts! The Tim Horton pastries were just as yummy as ever, too…only eating all the crazy, delicious “treat” foods we used to eat is no longer “no problem.” From Tim Horton’s, we made our way to Jackson Park, a 65-acre complex of gardens and picnic areas that contains over 10,000 plants and was my traditional all-time favorite place to visit on Mother’s Day from years gone by. Many of the plants are in the “sunken gardens,” which are still beautifully kept, and the park is often graced with wedding parties on sunny weekends. We spent many a happy afternoon playing with our kids at Jackson Park. Some things never change: Alan can’t pass a car dealership without wanting to stop and kick a few tires, but he’d rather read a book than revel in the beauty and symmetry of a well-designed garden . However, wasn’t he kind to let me spend all the time I wanted admiring the creative handiwork of both God and man? Our last stop was the Rose Garden…but where were the thousands of rose bushes & the huge World War 2 Lancaster bomber that served as a centerpiece? Two smaller aircraft now replaced the huge Lancaster, but there was nary a rosebush to be found. All the 450 varieties of roses had disappeared, and in their place were neatly groomed borders of much easier-to-care-for flowers. It was still truly lovely, but I was so disappointed! Funny how I’m only fine with change if it’s something I like! Time passes, and things do change…not always for the better. People say I look “just the same,” but they politely fail to add “except for the excess pounds you’ve gained.” I want to be willing to accept present realities as they are. When I’m faced with the present diverging from my expectations based on past memories, then I need to reconcile today’s truth with yesterday’s impressions and embrace the present for what it is, appreciating the good and making peace with the “bad” (limitations, decay, etc.). Just as we marry someone “for better or worse,” so I think we need to embrace life circumstances, our loved ones, and ourselves both in times of “better” and “worse.” The LORD alone is the only being in the universe who never changes: ”I am the LORD, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). But, in the midst of a world that changes and the clashing past and present, I am thankful for our unchanging God, because He is also “just right” all the time, and He can make things “just right” for us too—in the end if not always here on this earth—if we’ll let him.
“As for God, his way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30).