Monday, July 28, 2008

Reunion Ramblings

While I have lots of things on my to do list today, these thoughts keep walking around in my head clamoring to be released.

This weekend reminded me of the many, many blessings I live in daily. I visited with people whose financial success far exceeds ours, people whose life experiences have been broader, people who have traveled far and wide, people who have avoided big city influences and found peace in their hometown - in other words people whose lives for one reason or another might appear better than mine. But, when I consider it all, I wouldn't trade my life for any of them. Life is good and I have much for which to be grateful. Just to list a few, my loving husband who supports me in countless ways, our son who is all in all a great kid and a pleasure to be around most of the time (which is more than one can ask of a teeenager), my big, soft bed, my pillows (which I forgot to pack), and greatest of all knowledge of God's steadfast love for me.

This weekend I had conversations with people I hadn't seen in 10, 20, or 30 years. We all exchanged the basic information - where we live, are we married, do we have kids, what we do with our time. All very surface interactions. A few were genuinely intrigued or interested by my new role as clergywoman, but no one there had time to get any inkling of who I really am now. And by the same measure, I learned little about the real people under the surface. I'm wondering if that's all that much different than 30 years ago. I imagine that few of my classmates were aware that my home was filled with conflict and strife through out my high school years. My parents separated (a good thing) the week I left for college. I wonder if even my closest group of friends knew how much pain I carried within me at all times or why.

As I looked across the room at the dinner dance on Saturday night, I wondered how much pain was hidden beneath the surface of all those conversations that went, "How are you doing? Oh, I'm great!"' Who was struggling with illness, damaged marriages, troubled teens? It just didn't seem to be the time or the place to share one's struggles or even one's deeper feelings. In most conversations, the fact that I had anwered the call to ministry was discussed in light of career change rather than in terms of call and spirituality. I admit I contributed to that. It felt like words like "call" and "God" might give people the creeps. So, I am guilty of keeping all my conversations strictly at surface level. I don't know how I could have done otherwise, but I know I didn't listen deep enough.

In spite of the surface nature of our interactions, I truely believe many of us felt genuinely connected to the others. It seems our class had a bond beyond common experience. Perhaps that bond has continued because several of the natural leaders have maintained contact with each over the years.

One conversation was with a woman who like me wasn't part of the "in" group back in high school. As she introduced me to her signficant other, her comment about me was, "She was one of the ones who would talk to me." Now I have to tell you, I didn't make a conscious effort to make sure everyone felt included back then. It's something I do now, but not as a teenager. I talked to her because she was there to talk to. Who knew that something like that would matter? Be aware. What you do makes a difference.

I'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY - but I've still got a way to go.
While my understanding of my own and everyone else's value as a human being has grown and changed over time, it was really easy to fall back into expecting the same social strata to be in effect with me near the bottom. It's amazing how ingrained old patterns of thinking and reacting can be.

Lord, Thank you for the blessings you have poured on my life and for this reminder of them. Show me Lord how and what I can learn from this experience. Forgive me for opportunities missed and show me the blessings I overlooked from this weekend. Amen.


DogBlogger said...

Wow. Great reflections. I'm eager to hear more.

(sorry you forgot your pillow!)

Mary Beth said...

This is very cool! Good for you for going and taking the time to process...

Songbird said...

Such good reflections, thanks from another 30 year grad.

Rev.Dulce said...

You were probably a lot like you are now, caring and compassionate. People can sense that.

Anonymous said...

that took the kind of courage I don't have yet - my 20th went by a couple of years ago, but I have not ever gone back... maybe by the 30th

God_Guurrlll said...

I'm with Elastigirl, I skipped my 20th reunion. You showed courage and graciousness at your 30th. You inspire me!

Peace and love,