Do you rememeber cruising as a teenager?
I'm a native of Branson, Missouri, graduating from Branson High School in 1982. Back then, there was no Branson Landing, no Sight and Sound Theater, no constant entertainment all along "the Strip" as we called it. Back then we had only five music shows: Baldknobbers, Presley's Jubilee, The Plummer Family, The Foggy River Boys and Bob-O-Links Country Hoedown. We had The Shepherd of the Hills, White Water, Mutton Hollow and Silver Dollar City. The Tracks started while I was in high school, too.
And we had the Lakefront.
The Lakefront was the place we would drive our cars especially on Friday and Saturday nights. We would circle Mang Field, turn uphill on Main Street and head up "Hamburger Hill" to the McDonalds parking lot, where we circled the lot to head back to "the Loop."
Many would park their cars along the Lakefront and sit on the back of trucks and on top of car trunks, reconnect with friends (we didn't have smart phones or even dumb cell phones back then), occasionally watch a fight, gossip, laugh...and enjoy each other's company.
I can still smell the sweet fragrance of Lake Taneycomo. I can still see the lights of Mang Field on those humid summer nights when a softball tournament was being played, and hear the loud whistle of the train as it sped by. I can see the fog rolling in like a thick blanket from the Lake, and hear the ducks carrying on as they dodged the cars. I can hear the tennis balls being smacked from North Beach Park, and observe young couples walking hand-in-hand along the Lakefront.
I can still hear the multitude of cars honking, people yelling and sticking their head out of passenger windows waving to friends, and plans being met to meet at Mazzios or Pizza Hut.
While God makes us all individual and unique, He also has fashioned us in such a way that calls us to community, to a shared experience and sense of belonging. Jesus was asked the two greatest commandments from God. He quickly answered it is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Right along with that he said we are also called to love our neighbor as ourselves.
For me, cruising was a time to love my neighbor, reconnect with friends I grew up with, and simply share life with them in a celebration of togetherness. In today's world of virtual social interaction, I sense something has been lost...or at least placed on a shelf.
Those Friday and Saturday night excursions along the Lakefront helped me to slow down and enjoy life with my friends. Bonds were strengthened back then that have stretched and lasted these forty years later.
I pray that in today's world of digital overload and the often misinformation superhighway, we take regular time to turn off our phones, pads and laptops, and go be with our friends face to face, as opposed to finger to screen. Let's remember again the color of our friends' eyes...and smell the fragrances of a shared life experience again.
Let's love our neighbors...and slow down.
Let's go cruisin' again! :)