Out Of Nowhere

Once again…

“Memories exploded  as I stood in the doorway.”
Our congregation was considering the possibility 
of constructing
a new church building.

The one we were in at The Heights in Houghton Lake was old and too small for the growing congregation.

The basement often flooded 
in the spring of the year.
Sunday School class attendance was increasing.
Although the choir was small,

it was increasing in numbers.

The neighboring town of West Branch had recently built a beautiful new church.

A committee in our church,
 seeking ideas,
 was formed. 

“Let’s go to West Branch
 and check out their new building.”

Of course I wanted to be on that committee. 

The new church was in my former home town.
Any excuse to visit was a great idea.

The new United Methodist Church in West Branch
was built on the County Farm property
across the street
 from the house where I’d lived
 until I was seventeen.

If you’ve read in my blog post

  “About Mrs. Kelly”,
you have some idea of my emotional attachment
 to the County Farm
and to the wonderful lady 
who was my friend.
As the committee entered the new building, we were shown the kitchen area and the classrooms.


We saw the sanctuary and the dining area.
As others wandered the hallways
I decided to take a little side trip
 down a different hallway.
At the end of the hallway,
 there was an exit door.
Standing quietly
 staring out the door,
I realized 
I’d stood in that very place
 many times 
over the years of my youth.
It appeared to me,
  this doorway

was exactly
where the doorway to Mrs. Kelly’s kitchen had been.

It really didn’t matter 
if the blueprints showed my estimate of the location
 to be true or not to be true. 

This was a view I’d seen many times before.

(Was that the aroma of homemade bread?)

Still today,
 when I’m in town,
I  drive into the parking area
 and sit for a few minutes.
The location of this West Branch United Methodist Church
still reminds me of pleasant days of my youth.
There was and is, 
an oil well pump on the East side of the parking lot. 
The old barn bridge is often visible,
depending on the time of year,
and how many leaves are on the trees.
The barn is gone.
In my memory,
 the chicken coop is there.
The pasture where the sheep were kept,
exists there too.

I can see Mr. Kelly
 driving his team past our house
on his way to the hay fields.

Next door,
 at the North end of the parking area,
is the West Branch Township Hall. 
It hasn’t aged.
I have.
On the day of our committee’s visit, 
long ago, 

I could feel emotions rising in my throat,

glad I was standing alone.

I couldn’t have spoken to anyone right then.

The view was recalling a memory.
 It was taking me back
to a time in my life
of great happiness and joy.
As we were returning to our home town,
I casually mentioned to my fellow travelers

my experience
 at the doorway in the church.

No one seemed overwhelmed by my revelations. 

Should they have been?

A few days later,
I was traveling to a meeting with my Dad,
for which I served as secretary 
and he, as a board member.

I began to share my experience
of the treasured memory of the County Farm

as we drove along the highway.

Once again, it was difficult for me to speak.

Regaining my composure,
I shared with my Dad my emotional visit
to the United Methodist church
 in West Branch.

He listened attentively.

Then he began to share his thoughts with me. 

“Most people encounter experiences such as you had,
as they grow older and their lives have changed,” he said.
“They remember the joys of youth.
They remember people who were important to them

who have passed away 
or are no longer living nearby.

Buildings have often been removed by deterioration
or replaced by new construction.
You are young
 to be having such memories overtake you.”

Today, when I’m visiting the town of my youth,
I’m still making memories.
 The doorway to my future is open.
Life for me is still experienced
 one day at a time.
Have you stood in a doorway lately?

Photography By Mary Anne Tuck