Going to see my family back in January, we called at the farm from which my mother had come and where I spent the early years of my life. One of my aunts still lives in the farmhouse that was home to my grandparents; it is a house filled with happy memories, memories of summer days and gatherings of cousins (I was one of twenty grandchildren) and huge teas at the kitchen table.
The room we called the “kitchen” was never a kitchen in my lifetime, it was where we gathered to eat around a big wooden table, as many of us as possible squeezed into a settle that stood along one wall. It was where daytime visitors were received, one of the front rooms being used in the evenings, when the fire was lit, and the other front room only being opened for special occasions.
So it was that we sat around the kitchen table one afternoon in January. My aunt had been working on some curtains and her electric sewing machine sat on the kitchen table; it looked familiar. It looked like something from my childhood days.
“Is that the machine you always had?” I asked my aunt.
“It is,” she said, “I got it for my twenty-first birthday and I am seventy-six now.”
My aunt is twenty-one years older than me; for the whole of my life she has been using that sewing machine.
There was a strange moment of timelessness, as if by touching the machine I could somehow be connected with moments forty or fifty years ago.
Having a sense of timelessness, however, doesn’t stop time. Our local newspaper, the Western Gazette, brings news of funerals of those who were always there; people who somehow seemed old in the 1970s, but must only have been in their fifties because the obituaries say they were in their nineties.
There is a joy in going home, but also a sense of sadness; a year passes quickly and with it go opportunities that will not return. I should try to go home once a month, but it is easier said than done.
The approach of Easter is always an encouragement. In the business of everyday life, we can get down-hearted, worried about things, and miss the greatest truth of all – that this is not the end, that through the death and rising again of Jesus, we have hope of a life where no-one ages and where no-one dies; we have hope of a life of being forever young. Perhaps it will be a life where cousins gather again around a kitchen table and smile and laugh and enjoy just being there.