New Year’s Eve: Disney’s IllumiNating “Moving On”

skywayDisney Land opened on July 17, 1955, just a few weeks before I began kindergarten, and my parents took our family for my first visit when I was seven. I still remember the coupon books and the thrill of “flying” on the sky way and riding in a “ship” through the night sky over London, feeling like Wendy on her way to Neverland. But, my parents were the ultimate educators, and so most of our family vacations were to America’s incredible national parks, and over the years I grew to find nature even more thrilling than the child-delights of a fantastic fantasy world.Cinderella's C.Disney World opened on October 1, 1971. I had just graduated from college and was teaching high school in Greensboro, North Carolina that year, but when the South Eastern Christian School Teachers Annual Convention met in Florida and everybody else headed to Disney World for a day, my sister and I sat it out. We were just a little too sophisticated in those days, and so we spent our day on the beach in Orlando memorizing the book of Romans instead.ImaginationI could never have imagined that just one year later I’d be visiting Disney World with Alan and his great uncle Bill, or that Alan and I would spend the next 40 Luggageyears visiting Disney World over 50 times. In fact, both Jonathan and Joel had been to Disney three times before their first birthday, and Joel (our youngest) will have been to Disney 3 times this year (his 21st) again! 74Alan’s favorite vacation in the world has been to drive us down to Disney and 2011camp at Fort Wilderness, the 1500 loop if possible, where the cloud count is 86usually “O,” the temperature usually in the 80°s, and there seems to be no end of River Countrytennis, volleyball, swimming, boating, biking, and beautifully groomed Campingtrails…cool nights for sleeping, picnics, camping, fun and relaxation. We never 63owned a cottage, but the kids call Fort Wilderness their home away from home, Petting Zooand several of the kids have been playfully plotting to write a book of essays 69                                        about “growing up at Disney World.”GoofyApparently, we’re not the only Disney aficionados. Last year Disney hosted some 198417 million visitors, making it the most visited tourist attraction in the world. I suspect that will also be true when tonight is over and Disney closes its gates on 2012. We were at Epcot one New Year’s Eve some years ago when my sister was going to come about noon and meet us. However, by the time she arrived, the 01park had already filled up with their allotted 100,000 guests for the day and she couldn’t get in! I’m imagining that will happen today, although I’m not there. I’m sitting at my desk looking out at a cardinal pecking away at our bird feeder under a grey sky and a backdrop of frozen, snow-covered lake.03At any rate, as 2012 closes, the lyrics from the song “Promise” (Epcot’s IllumiNations theme song) keeps playing on the sound track of my mind, so just in case you’ve never heard it, I want to share it with you at the end of this post…04 2012 was one of the hardest years of my life in some ways, but it has also been one of the happiest. As a family, we had three new grand babies in close to one 06month, and another soon after, making a grand total of 4 grandchildren in 4 months. Two of the young dads were in serious accidents (and still recovering to some extent). There have been job changes, uncertainties, and some of the most trying challenges in our lives. But, by God’s grace, I believe we’re all going to Fairy Land by Nightcome through, not only alive, but hopefully with deeper faith and a greater        ability to love.Evening LightsThe financial situation in our country and around the world is very intimidating to me. The future is fraught with insecurities. Nevertheless, I would like to encourage us all to be brave and, as the song goes: “We’ll go on, growing closer through the years. Moving on, through the good times and the tears.”05

Every evening brings an ending.  Every day becomes a legacy.                          Every sunset leads to morning with the promise of opportunity.02We can reach for the stars we find along the way,                                          Dreaming as we learn to love everyday.

Promise you will take my hand as tomorrow comes. We’ll go on…07We’ll go on, growing closer through the years.
Moving on, through the good times and the tears.
Ever on, another thousand circles ’round the sun
If two can be as one, we’ll go on.

There is music if you listen in the rhythm of each breath we take.       Destinations undiscovered, revelations from every choice we make.09And I know there are diamonds dancin’ in the sky;
All we have to do is open our eyes.

Promise we’ll walk side by side—
As a new day dawns, we’ll go on.08We’ll go on, growing closer through the years,
Moving on, through the good times and the tears
Ever on, another thousand circles ’round the sun
A new life has begun: The two of us as one.
We’ll go on, moving on, through the good times and the tears,
Ever on, another thousand circles ’round the sun
A new life has begun when two of us are one
And we live to keep the promise,  we’ll go on
Ever on,  we’ll go on. —”Promise” lyrics from Epcot’s IllumiNations fireworks

“Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).