Like a fish out of water.
You’ve seen, of course, that Sears is going bankrupt. From its humble beginnings selling watches, Sears grew to be the world’s largest retailer, selling everything from insurance to car batteries. Before, that is, it went into a long, painful, and, now, terminal decline.
My wife, Marleen, and I were married in November of 1979. That’s 39 years ago.
Marleen’s uncle, Bud Pickford, was a long time Sears employee. For our wedding, he and his wife, Peg, gave us a set of Sears stainless steel cookware. There was a large pot for pasta, soup and the like. And a frying pan. Both of them were in use last night at our home. The original small grooves etched on the bottom of the pots have been worn nearly smooth; countless trips through the dishwasher have left the bakelite nob of the lid cracked. The bottom of the fry pan is a richly burnished black. The sauce pans, after decades of faithful service, fell apart years ago. Bud and Peg, along with their quirky senses of humor, have also been gone for decades.
My wife, to put it mildly, has had a rough few days with a nasty stomach bug and an even nastier reaction to antibiotics. Talk about your cure being worse than the illness. A few day ago a neighbor rushed her to the Sky Ridge hospital ER room when they couldn’t track me down. When I got there, she was in more pain than I’ve seen her in since child birth. They gave her some pain killers and we eventually went home. At 3 a.m., I rushed her back.
After last night, however, I’m convinced she’s finally turned the corner. Why? Because I made this delicious recipe from Bon Appetit in the Sears frying pan. It’s buttery richness is enough to turn any stomach that isn’t in pretty much perfect working order. Marleen even went back for seconds! Except that rather than pasta, I served it over roasted sweet potatoes. More flavor. And healthier (slightly) to boot. I warned her, however, that if another trip to the ER had to be made, she was Ubering it. She took that crack in the spirit in which it was intended-and even sent our clan a Telegram recounting it.
But chanterelle mushrooms? Who, aside from a few high brow French chefs, had even heard of them when those Sears pans were made? Now, the most affordable place to get these still pricey seasonal delicacies is where my wife picks them up, the defiantly déclassé Costco. A store that was scarcely more than a twinkle in its founder’s eye when we got those pans.
But the point of this little tale of domestic agony and ecstasy? Where does 39 years go? Sure, those pots are showing their age. But not nearly so much as I. We’ve welcomed three wonderful children into our lives. And now four, nearly five, grandchildren. And so much more has happened. How could a life so full and eventful go by so quickly? After all, time is the only medium that we actually know. But the way it seems to so rapidly slip between our fingers is perpetually strange to us. Why?
C. S. Lewis, perhaps the best known of 20th century Christian thinkers, offers a winsome explanation in his little book, Reflections on the Psalms:
“For we are so little reconciled to time that we are even astonished by it. ‘How he’s grown!’ we exclaim, ‘How time flies!’ as though the universal form of our experience were again and again a novelty. It is as strange as if a fish were repeatedly surprised at the wetness of water. And that would be strange indeed; unless of course the fish were destined to become, one day, a land animal.”
By “land” Lewis was, of course, referring to that “heavenly country,” that New Jerusalem the saints of old yearned to one day see. And which, in the fullness of time, they will.