Friday, January 30, 2015

looking back, taking stock

Plans for my 20th high school class reunion are underway. Gulp. Could it be??

I remember going to my Mom's 20th reunion from Denver Christian High School. I was, um, the age of our oldest daughter now (13 or 14), which I guess makes sense. We met at a park. I was old enough to appreciate the very interesting social dynamics which are peculiar to reunions. Posturing. Bragging. Catching up. The litany of questions -- where did you go to school? how long have you been married? are your kids running around here somewhere? where do you work? Mom says it went better than her 10th. Still, while some of her classmates were genuine and warm, a few seemed stiff, intent on maintaining the boundaries of old cliques. Perhaps it was really shyness. Who knows?

And now it's my turn.
How does one summarize 20 years of life in a few minutes for an old classmate?
Is it possible to cultivate conversations that invite genuine sharing rather than one-upping?
What exactly is gained by reconnecting with dozens of people half a lifetime and half a continent away? -- people whose lives are as busy as mine and who do not have time to "keep in touch!"?

And if that's true, then how can I explain the thrill it gives me just to think about going?!

I understand that some people hate reunions. I get that. There is something inherently weird about them. But I guess I have reunion written in my genes.

Of our graduating class of 63 students, over half of us had been together since preschool, and many of us had the same teachers our parents had had before us. We built memories to last a lifetime. Want me to prove it? Ask my kids what I did in third grade, trying to be funny, that got me sent to the principal's office. Ask them which boy I tackled during recess in 5th grade playing pom-pom polo-way in the snow (I'll make sure he remembers). Ask them about my rocky middle school years, when I scarcely went a day without getting into a fight with my best friend. Ask them what I wore to school the first day of high school that prompted people in the hall to stop and salute me or say the pledge of allegiance (what was I thinking???). Ask them whose ice cream I ate on stage during our high school production of 'The Matchmaker.' Ask them about the time when my friends and I tried to get a detention my senior year for the first time by climbing out a classroom window onto the roof during lunch (it didn't work). Ask them how close I was to being Valedictorian, and who beat me. Ask them about my high school Bible teacher, Mr. N., whose inspiration propelled me into biblical studies. These are the stories that shaped my childhood. They shaped me. 

Is that why Facebook made me cry today? Seeing old friends. Seeing their children. Seeing their faith. Seeing who they've become. Scrolling through years of losses and gains and just plain living, I realized something. I love these people.

I had hoped to have finished my doctorate before the reunion. But why? So that I wouldn't have to say that I'm still in school some 20 years later? Each of us is on a journey. The important thing is not so much what we have achieved, but what kind of people we've become along the way. My earnest prayer is that I am more like Jesus today than I was when I walked across the platform 20 years ago. If that's the case, then it will be a happy reunion, indeed.

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