Photo and Commentary ©2023 by Shelley Schurch
September 3, 2023

Today is the anniversary of our asking and answering, a time celebrated by this photo of the two of us in our denim vacation duds, sitting on the couch in the Union College Faculty Lounge in Lincoln, Nebraska.

I never noticed the painting behind us; it looks more Pacific Northwest than Midwest. Maybe it was a prophetic painting, because for all we knew, we would be settling down there in that Midwestern college town where my husband-to-be was teaching college English. However, a few years later the Lord led us west to Washington, where our roots are now decades deep down.

We apparently didn’t pay any attention to the crooked lampshade, either – or maybe Maylan bumped the end table as he hurried back to the couch after setting the timer on his camera. (Yes, this was way before selfies!)

We were re-creating the scene of the September Saturday night in 1977, after a Doug Oldham concert in the college auditorium, when Maylan casually said he wanted to get something from his office in the Ad Building. His office was on the fourth floor, and so was the Faculty Lounge. We stopped there, and he fished a velvety-looking box out from under the couch where he had earlier stashed it, and asked if I would marry him. When he tells the story, he says I answered with an enthusiastic, “Oh, yes!”

It was probably a bit of a hoarse response, too, because I’d been battling a really bad sore throat for a while and was not feeling so good. He said later that he figured if he asked me when I was sick, I would know he really meant it!

And so I left the Faculty Lounge an engaged woman, hoarse but happy.

Every time we visited the college in years to come, we would make our pilgrimage back to the place of our asking and answering and take a picture. The furniture and wall paint color changed over time, and so did we – all for the better, I think!

We like to celebrate anniversaries and momentous occasions of all kinds, in our lives and in the lives of others. I think it’s a way of saying “Thank you” to God for His good gifts to us. Our gift to Him is remembering and rejoicing.

Yesterday as I was fixing food, Maylan started reading aloud to us John Medina’s book, Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp. As I stuffed an eggplant I listened carefully (just had a birthday . . .) as the ten principles were introduced. One of them surprised me more than the others: “Be sure to reminisce.”

I might have expected the opposite: “Avoid living in the past.” But no, that’s not the counsel given. Instead, there’s this statement: “Nostalgic experiences have many cognitive benefits.” The research backing up that statement is fascinating and encouraging for people like us who go on pilgrimages and celebrate all kinds of anniversaries.

And it makes sense, too, when I think of how many times in the Bible God asks us to pause and remember, to set up a memorial altar, to tell our stories to the younger generations. Even one of the Ten Commandments asks us to “Remember the Sabbath day.” We get to celebrate each week!

And during the last Passover meal He ate with His disciples, as He broke the bread and took the cup, He said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” When we celebrate the communion service in our congregation, we offer a time for people to remember and rehearse God’s goodness to them – we reminisce.

The One who created our minds and bodies knows the best brain rules for aging well on this old sin-saturated planet. He designed us for eternity, then made it possible for us to live forever with Him.

It’s exciting to uncover how intricately we are fashioned, and even more exciting to look forward to that eternity. We’ll have plenty of time to reminisce then. Until then, we have the joy of looking forward and backward, and the assurance that God walks with us in all the in-between days.