Friday, April 13, 2012

Saginaw, Michigan


I write tonight from a hotel room both far and—somehow, strangely—close to home.

We all know that home isn’t about the house (although the house can sometimes become part of what home is to us), but about the lives that are interlaced, interlocked together. It’s about memories—not just the ones we feel fondly toward, but even those most difficult, those most painful, those we struggle to utter. It’s all of it. And it’s more.

Our culture has so detached itself. Even now, I sit in a hotel room with two other people—two of us are engrossed in a computer, the other engrossed in a magazine. It’s not bad; it’s just the truth: We have become so independent, so free.

But we’re no more free of our lineage than a plant is free from its roots; we can no more escape our family history than Lake Superior can escape the rocks and sands of Her shores. We are bound to the past, not as prisoners bound by chains; rather, we are bound as the rings of a tree, ever growing outward from some sturdy, safe, healthy core. Layer upon layer, we distance ourselves from those beginnings; but we will never be free of them.

I am nearing the inner ring of my tree. I think. It is here, in a small town called Frankenmuth. He is buried in the southeast corner of the St. Lorenz Cemetery. He is John Michael Schmitzer.

(Or Schmüetzer. But then…who knew it was spelled with a “u”? Oh, that’s right—my mom did. Ha! I am about as “amateur” as it gets, but if I could pass along one tip to a young Family Historian, it would be this: Family legends begin as family truths; listen to the stories.)

I have so many photos, so many notes, so many memories to capture from this wonderful, unexpected, funny, spectacular day, but I can’t get there. Not yet. I am caught in one moment.

John Michael Schmitzer.

I stood there today, at his grave, overwhelmed at the realization—yet again—that God had…no, God has…He has…He always has…He still has…a plan. A purpose.

There’s a reason you’re here, folks. God brought you to this place at this time in this great big world, and whether you believe that He is meticulously sovereign or that He is omniscient even in our free will, I defy you to claim that He led you here by mistake. Or worse—that He had no part in bringing you here at all.

It’s just not true. Time and time again in Scripture, we see God’s sovereignty to bring about His will, to accomplish all that He desires, to affect change in the world.

Don’t ever believe that it’s unintentional. It is most certainly intentional on God’s part. He brought you to this moment.

He brought me to this moment.

Through the pain and the struggle of growth, through the joys and pleasures of all that delights, through the hopes, the fears, the unspoken dreams, the passions that consume us, each memory pushes us…grows us ever more into who we are. Moment upon moment; memory upon memory; circle upon circle, we are crafted.

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