High school class reunions. Have you been to one lately? It is going to take me a while to figure out what I experienced. Most of my closest friends did not attend or else they were there and I didn’t recognize them.
Without name tags, reunions might as well be gatherings of the Lions Club from a different planet. Some of my class mates see each other around town or saw each other at the last reunion. We were on the road the last two, so we haven’t seen the folks for 15-20 years. After I talked to some of them, certain characteristics became familiar again. “Ah ha! You used to be Larry….”
These were the people who were the most important humans on the face of the earth to me. I needed their favor or approval and now I don’t even know them. These are not my people! And they haven’t been long since the wrinkle fluid was injected.
Charlie has been a professional photographer since graduation. He has been taking reunion pictures for decades. He shot photos for one of The Bentons vinyl record albums. I’m not sure he knew who I was. He took pictures of the graduating class and also the grade schools we attended. There were 5-6 grade schools that fed into Junior high. I attended four of them. We moved and when the family divorced, I changed schools a couple of times. That was kinda weird. I thought Charlie was going to limit the number of school pix one person could be in.
It was interesting to watch how people clustered. I was blessed in school by running with a very eclectic group. I noticed at this reunion I got hugged less. The last one I attended I hugged people I would never have touched in high school. Maybe once every two-decades was enough for them.
I am also blessed to have a couple of peers who are Facebook friends with whom I talk. How I treasure them. One of those ladies has been a friend since third grade. I really do treasure that connection and the memories she reminds me of. Another lady greeted me 20 years ago with “Why! Dean Benton! I thought you were dead.” We’ve kept making sure the other one is not ever since via Facebook. She is one I hugged.
I found myself asking the same question of people whose faces hinted that I knew them in earlier life. “Tell me about you.” Several reminded me how they remembered me. I was the one voted most apt not to graduate from the 8th grade. Every conversation reminded me how different I am—due to the redemptive love of Christ. How lost I was during the years those people knew me. I desperately wanted to hear people’s stories—what has your life been? The big questions I kept asking about me: Who am I? Who are my people?
My mother operated a café across the street from one of our grade schools. Surprising how many remembered Mom. I was Vi’s kid to some of my peers. I was pleased for her. Had I ever asked her what her mission statement was, she wouldn’t have understood. She had a phrase that described it. Listening to some of the memories, she fulfilled her mission.
I felt honored to be asked to pray over the meal. During that prayer, I suddenly was aware of the teachers who invested in us. It was a startling, moving moment for me. Some of those classmates had also influenced me. One of the guys who came to sit at our table was not among my closest friends in school. He told me he works with Celebrate Recovery in his church and I felt closer to him—we belong to the same Kingdom family. Had we had time I would have found more of Jesus’ friends.
It has not been easy to figure out the traffic in my mind or soul. I don’t think I am as old as that gathering, but I realize the Chicago Cubs are probably not going to call me up. Therefore, Who am I, now? And who are my people?
Two or three decades ago, I told a seminar group I was going to my high school reunion. The story fit into the seminar. “So I sent in my $10 fee….” One lady asked with loud unbelief. “How much did it cost you?” I told her $10. She said with great passion: “$10? It cost me $700!” I asked her how it could have cost me $10 and her $700. She replied, “You didn’t have to buy all the new weight loss exercise equipment.”
Thanks for being my people.
©2016 D. Dean Benton bentonministries.com