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For 13 weekends and counting, I have enjoyed serving as interim pastor to the good people who make up the historic yet lively First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn. This experience puts me in close proximity to where I was born and raised, but have not lived for more than 30 years.

After spending this past weekend with many friends of my childhood and youth, the words of Susan Mott, in the September 2007 Journal of American History, come to mind: “Homesickness is a longing for a lost place, nostalgia is a longing for a lost time.”

Processing the feelings that come from reconnecting with the past is interesting. Exactly what are those feelings that come from old (and often embellished) stories, strong laughter and communication that goes beyond words?

For me, it is not homesickness. I’ve called too many places home and have created one of my own. But there is a mellowness — with a touch of nostalgia — that results from such experiences.

But, for me, the feeling is primarily one of deep gratitude for those dear persons — many gone on to their reward — who created real community and invested their lives in mine.

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