RITE OF PASSAGE: The Land of Somewhere
Some of my most vivid childhood memories come from our many family vacations. You notice I didn’t say “fond” memories but “vivid” ones. Since we were poor, our vacations always consisted of camping out. I never knew we were poor. I just thought our family was adventurous, and the people who stayed in hotels were the poor ones who couldn’t afford camping equipment. In fact, my parents judged how good each vacation was according to its “roughing it” factor.
For instance, the farther away from civilization we got, the higher my parents ranked the vacation on the “roughing it” scale. If we woke up in the morning and our water bucket was frozen, the trip got extra points. Bears and other life-threatening animals crawling around outside our tent gave it even more points. And if we had to spend the night holding our tent down during a Category Five hurricane, that vacation won the “roughing it” award hands down.
Every time we returned home from a vacation, my dad spent the rest of the year reminding us what a great time we had: “Remember that night we had a torrential downpour?” (How could I ever forget? I thought the four horses of the apocalypse had come, and the only thing separating me from death was a piece of canvas bought on sale at Sears and Roebuck. Dad always mumbled something about the “good old days.”)
Still, every year we headed out again, trying to see if we could outdo the previous year’s vacation by standing face-to-face with danger and coming home to brag about it.
We took a lot of pictures of our vacations. On the backs of these pictures, my parents wrote “Somewhere in Colorado” or “Somewhere in Wyoming” or sometimes just “somewhere.” Since our family was lost most of the time (of course, being lost gave the vacation extra points on the “roughing it” scale), we could never give you many details about where we had been. We just knew that we had gone “somewhere.” As an adult, I tried to remember where in the world we went on those trips. Every so often, when my parents were still living, I asked them about one of the vacations. Their answers always began with “Somewhere. . .”
In our family, however, “somewhere” wasn’t limited to vacations. “Somewhere” also had to do with Bible references. My parents said, “Somewhere in the Bible it tells us that you shouldn’t hit your little brother.” “Where in the Bible?” I asked. “Somewhere in John!”
When I was growing up, it seemed there were lots of “somewheres” in the Gospel of John. In fact, most of the “somewheres” were in the New Testament. I don’t ever remember my parents giving me an instruction they had found “somewhere” in Zephaniah. . . I heard things like “Somewhere in the Bible, it says to clean your plate, make your bed and wash behind your ears.” I was never sure where the Bible said that, but I knew it must say it “somewhere.” And as a child, you just have to accept the “somewheres.”
As you get older, you begin to question the “somewheres” and realize that “somewhere” is just not good enough. You don’t want your eternity based on “somewhere” but upon the truth-upon a real knowledge of the Scriptures. Maybe that’s why the Bible says “somewhere” in the Psalms, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I may not sin against thee.” (In this case, the “somewhere” is Psalms 119:11, KJV.) God did NOT say that I am to hide His word “somewhere.” Instead, He says that I am to have it in my heart.
As parents, we need to give our children a place where they can go to verify the truth. “Somewhere” may make a nice vacation place, but the real problem with “somewhere” is that you can never find your way back again. Begin your new year by pledging in your heart that your children will know where you have taken them. That way, when they get lost in life, they will know how to find their way back.
Now, where are the rest of my New Year’s resolutions? I know I put them somewhere . . .