I have in my mind and moment in time. I am a school custodian. It is my first year of marriage, specifically, my second month of marriage. We married in early September 1979. It must be an autumn evening in October now. I am the evening custodian at VanCleve Elementary School in Troy, Ohio. Soon I will move on to a handful of other jobs before I finally land in my life-long calling as a pastor.
But tonight I am taking a break in a second-floor classroom. I’m sitting in a rocking chair by a huge open casement window looking out over the street. The building is silent. I am alone. It is the golden hour just before sunset and sun lights the upper branches of a huge ancient maple tree opposite the school. Two-thirds of the leaves cling to the branches still. A third of them are on the ground around the tree in a bright circle of yellow and orange on the green grass. Children are playing in the yard among the fallen leaves. A hint of cool air comes in from the east-facing window. The air is fresh.
The tableau stays sweetly in my memory year after year for no apparent reason beyond the mellow beauty of the hour. I cherish that quiet moment in the window for a few minutes and then I move on to finish my work. I don’t remember a single drive to work or drive home. I don’t remember much of anything else. I don’t remember ever picking up my pay though I know I did, every other week, but I do remember those few quiet moments in that window looking out on an autumn evening.
About 11 p.m. I would get in my car and go home to my young wife out on Ohio 718 west of town. We had a tidy apartment–the upstairs of an old farm house, nicely remodeled with new carpet and fresh paint. She would have something for me to eat, a glass chilled in the freezer for my Pepsi, and a snack. She would have been alone for hours and eager to have someone to talk to.
Maybe you will forget everything you do tomorrow, or maybe a little scene will stick in your mind for decades. You just don’t know, do you? May God bless you with pleasant memories.