When I lived right outside of Los Angeles, decades ago, I drove to Hollywood in search of Lucille Ball's house. I bought a map of where the movie stars lived intent on finding "Lucy's house." The winter day was warm, as the sun shines almost year round in Southern California. I found her street easily, and parked my brown Camaro across the street from Ms. Ball's home. I actually fantasized that she might be in her yard, that I could walk up to her and say how much joy she'd brought me over the years--how much "I loved Lucy." I remembered that the neighborhood was hauntingly quiet that day, other than a few birds singing. The date palms lining the street stood sentinel, their leaves barely whispering. And her house seemed almost ordinary compared with some of the other mansions on the street--white brick, the front door painted black, lush St. Augustine grass. I snapped a picture and lingered for a bit, thinking back over my short life. I Love Lucy began airing before I was born. And in 1960, when I was five, I was just beginning to enjoy the re-runs of the famous Ricardos. I realized tears streamed down my face as I walked back to my car. Why was I crying?
And now fast-forward twenty years, and I'm watching a PBS documenetary on You Tube entitled Findng Lucy. The documentary tracks her rise from a B movie queen to television stardom, her face the most recognized in the whole world at one point. I watched clips of I Love Lucy, remembering every episode. The comedy bits still made me laugh. But then, the very last show Lucy and Desi recorded together, she had already filed for divorce. It was not only the end of a marriage, but also the end of an era in television. Tears again flowed down my face all these years later. I realized I was experiencing a brush with nostalgia. It was as if I was running through a blur of memories. I wanted to run through them, but simultaneously I didn't, because reminiscing stirred sadness and a longing to go back.
The melancholy feelings lingered for a couple of days after I'd watched the documentary. I realized that the laughter and comfort of the I Love Lucy show was threaded throughout my life, bringing familiarity with the characters; creating happy endings in thirty minute bursts; easing loneliness. I could always count on Ricky and Lucy, Fred and Ethel. But their magic didn't last, and that's what caused the bittersweetness. Nothing lasts forever. Here anyway. And I long for things not to end.
"I have things to do," I said to myself. "Get up and get going, Priscilla." I found my list and headed out on my errands, the tasks at hand soaking up my gloom. I felt the sun on my face, its warmth pouring into the car window as I sat at the light. At that moment, I happened to glance over and notice a sign posted on a veterinarian's office: Dogs laugh with their tails. I laughed out loud. All I could think of were the many dogs I'd owned and loved, their wagging tails like laughter, joy without words. In that moment, I sensed God's mysterious recalibration of my mood, reminding me that His love is not transient, not laden with nostalgia. But rather HIs love and joy is past, present and future. My longings are all met in His Kingdom provision. Each day and at all times I can taste and see that He is good. My connection with Him is never broken. My relationship with Him lasts forever.
A loving Father does things like this--He intervenes when we are blue. He knows how to make us laugh. He does sometimes provide "signs." And when I got home from my errands there was an email from a loving friend. All it said was: "Nehemiah 8:10." The joy of God is your strength.