What a busy month it has been. One week in DC, then back to Chicago, then out to Boston for another week, ending with a trip to my 5-year college reunion last weekend.
Even as I write this, I am struck by the realization that the feelings I’ve had and lessons I’ve learned during this experience are probably fairly common. And if that is the case, I am nevertheless unashamed to join that crowd of people who leave their college reunions with the same mix of underwhelmed expectations, relived bittersweet memories, immense warmth, and gratitude that I did.
First, I will never forget the immense warmth I received from my friends when sharing news of my engagement. I am so touched by the sincerity in their faces as I introduced my wife-to-be, despite my dismal attempt to keep in touch with them over the last five years. I only hope that I can continue to keep my friends in our prayers and extend to them the same warmth and encouragement as they continue to grow over the next 5 years.
The odd thing about being back on campus with friends — despite how so many of the buildings have changed — is that the experience itself is oddly untouched. The jokes we make, the ways we play (and for now, the way we look), are exactly the same as they were 5 years ago. It is quite undeniably a moment frozen in time.
In a way it is sort of an eerie experience, just a frozen, empty shell of how things used to be. If there is anyone with whom you barely spoke, you have even less to say to them now. Anyone who you always used to recognize but never acknowledged become mere ghosts in your memory. And without the time to sit down and go into our lives in depth, even the people you knew well have little to say (perhaps facebook is partially to blame). What I learned very quickly is that the experience gains most of its meaning and depth from the now. It is where I am now and the fullness of life I have awaiting me that brings life to the past. The relived memories by themselves are actually quite empty without some knowledge of how it fits into your current trajectory. I am reminded of those in my life who tend to dwell in the past, searching for comfort there rather than building an active life now.
On the other hand, I also realized that relationships take real effort to maintain. We need to continue to find ways to bring those relationships into the “now” every now and then, lest they become ghosts in our memories. Facebook may have dampened our ability to engage in small-talk with long lost friends, but it sure makes it easy to communicate often. I should write on a few walls before bed tonight…
Ultimately I think what we need is a healthy respect for the past. I have experienced growth, love, healing, and new life over the last 5 years that is beyond words. In this new life, I have been often unsure of what to make of my past, but what my college reunion has shown me is how the past, present, and future feed meaning to each other. I must live in the present, show love and respect to my past, and await my future with hope, patience, and faith.
(Thank you @perpetualgrace for being there)