While driving yesterday, I heard a conversation with Mary Frank. The question being discussed? “Where does experience go?”
It’s a question that has weighed on me since. Today was our last family day at First Missionary Church. Tomorrow I turn in my keys and phone and change my own passwords. On Friday, the lock was changed on my office. (Of course, I haven’t locked it at all in 7 years, and I wasn’t being locked out, but it makes a great image of change.)
So what does happen to experience? All of the conversations with people at the hospital right before surgery? The hugs right before or right after finding out about the death of a parent? The drama scripts written and rewritten? The struggles to figure out why the sound system isn’t sounding in the last 2 minutes before the service starts? The anxiety about whether we will figure out what is happening financially with our childcare? The conversations about finding jobs and careers and meaning?
Where does all of that experience go?
Sometimes it goes no where. It evaporates into thin air, leaving no trace on my memory. Sometimes it finds its way into my brain, suggesting that the next time I should say this differently, or provide that direction. Sometimes it finds its way into my heart, from whence it emerges at the least opportune time through a spot very near my eyes.
Sometimes, if we wait long enough, we find the experience emerging from our children, reflected in their choices and values. We hear that our experience, shaped and transformed, has been bouncing around in someone else’s life. We look back on work and find that in fact, it wasn’t bad at all.
We are not the same people that started attending FMC more than a decade ago. At that point, we never thought we’d stay this long. Somewhere in the middle, we never thought we’d leave. What was evident today, as we listened to our friends talk about what God has done in their lives and has allowed us to participate in, is that staying and leaving are not the point. Transforming and being transformed by people through relationship is what matters.
And this has been a wonderful experience.