Lessons learned from a high school reunion

As I anticipate the gathering of old friends and memories, I’ve had a country song running through my head.

As I write this month’s column I am preparing to go to my high school reunion.

Since you asked, it’s my 45th.

Of course, I’ve engaged in the usual reunion humor, telling my friends that “I’m going up to see all those old people.” Of course, they’re saying the same about me.

As I anticipate the gathering of old friends and memories, I’ve had a country song running through my head. Garth Brooks sings about his reunion, where he runs into his old girlfriend. He remembers how fervently he prayed that they would spend the rest of their lives together, and how crazy in love he was. Then he thinks of his wife and children, launching into the refrain: “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer.”

I like the wit of the song, but I also like the theology. Thank God, indeed! I am ever grateful to God that, in his great wisdom, God knew better than to answer my misguided prayers.

However, I do find attending class reunions instructive. They are learning experiences. For those of you who have reunions this summer, let me catalogue a few of the lessons:

There are few blessings better than old friends — the folks who “knew you when.” I’m happy to say that our class has a way of picking up right where we left off five years ago, even after all these years.

They did, indeed “know you when.” Reunions teach you humility. If you’ve become a little too impressed with yourself and your accomplishments, your old friends will burst your bubble and remind you of the days when you were the nerd you were back then.

When people decide that they are old, they get old. Of course, there are the unavoidable health issues that plague some, but why is it that some seem to stay forever young while others have given up on youthfulness and aged much faster? It has been wisely said that we’d all be better off if we didn’t know how old we are. The numbers, in general, are not helpful.

The popular “big men on campus” don’t always fare well in the long run. Their glory days are always in the past, and the present is constantly disappointing.

Often the happiest, most productive, most interesting people are the quiet ones who didn’t make many waves in high school. They spent their time actually doing their homework, and didn’t care much about calling attention to themselves.

Time passes quickly. Tempus fugit. As one of the two clergy members of our class, it often falls to me to read the names of class members who have died. The first ones gave their lives in Vietnam. The latest ones succumbed to regrettable health problems. The Psalmist said that we do well to count our own days because the accounting of our time can make us wise.

The later reunions are a lot more fun than the first ones. Early on, people try to impress each other with what they’ve accomplished, or how much money they make. At the later ones, we’re much nicer and more grateful. We’re much easier on each other.

I’m just grateful for those nametags that have our yearbook picture on them. Otherwise my old girlfriends wouldn’t know who I am!

Now — what shall I wear?


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