Monday, October 01, 2007

Reunion Review

My 20th year college reunion was so great. Faces brought back names, names brought back memories, and memories evoked an era that just doesn't seem that long ago, despite the wrinkles that everyone seemed to have developed...practically overnight, hasn't it been?

Papa Rooster had been asked to emcee part of the program at the big Saturday night dinner event, and he did a beautiful job moderating a time of open-mike sharing. Some related a memory of a favorite professor or significant life lessons they were grateful they had learned at Wheaton. Many spoke of what God had been doing in their lives since college. Several shared circumstances and trials that had deepened their faith or their dependency on the Lord.

One woman, who had been a voice major, related how she had always thought she would serve and worship God with her voice, until a few years ago, a surgeon's knife accidentally severed the nerve to her vocal chords and now she will never sing again. "My identity was so wrapped up in being a singer," she said. "But tonight, I am worshiping the Lord by listening to all of you."

One man, who in college and at our fifteenth reunion seemed to have had it all, told his story of leaving a successful business to move his family to another state to take a different job, of being laid off, of failing in real estate and of ending up currently living in a friend's basement with his family. At this low point in his life, he shared how God has met him, especially through the words and prayers of his old college friends. His honesty and humility spoke volumes.

Another man gave an update on his brother-in-law and his wife, who were both in our class. They were married the day before graduation, and they both had mono at the time. That mono evolved into what was then called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (now myalgic encephalopathy), and they have both been sick ever since--twenty years!--unable to work or leave their home. Their parents care for them. Yet their faith in God is strong. It is all they have.

A good friend of mine, Debbie, was there, and she has the same diagnosis. She's been a missionary in Hungary, with her husband, for the last 15 years. She said she's been feeling mostly well since May; it is the longest she'd ever gone. She told me that having this illness was one of the best things that had ever happened to her. "When I was at Wheaton," she said, "I was such a perfectionist. I was all wrapped up in how spiritually mature I could be, how much I was going to do for God. Well, I haven't been able to do a thing for God for all these years. I haven't been able to do anything but fall in love with Jesus--and that was the something more I had always prayed for. I don't want to sound morbid, but sometimes I almost feel sorry for people who don't have this illness. I know it's been the only way God could do what He's done in my life."

I backpacked all over Europe with Debbie back in her healthy college days, and she was in my wedding nearly 21 years ago. We've kept in touch by email, but we hadn't seen each other in 16 or 17 years. She looked radiant; she may have been the least unchanged of any of my classmates. It sure was good to see her again.

Several people said they didn't recognize me because I always had short hair during college, and one acquaintance said he remembered me by my smile. No one said anything about my nose. It did bruise, right across the bridge. But with the skillful application of cover-up, foundation and powder, only a couple of blog-readers could tell it was there. They would never have noticed it otherwise, they assured me. (I chose to believe them, just like I choose to believe that it won't show when we have outdoor family pictures taken tomorrow....)

It was a privilege to attend a school whose motto is "For Christ and His Kingdom." This weekend I was grateful, encouraged and inspired to see how those in my class were leaning on the Lord to help them live up to it.

2 comments:

Summer in FL said...

Wow -- sounds like a great time.

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