Some of my old high school buddies and I try to get together at least once a year for a long weekend. We call it the “Big Chill” Weekend (quite original, don’t you think?). I believe we’re currently working on number eight (BCVIII). Each time we get gather, we can always count on a lot of yucks.
Almost every time we’re together, I think the same thing. Somewhere about half way through the weekend, I look around at these precious souls and say to myself, “We’re just little boys trying to grow up.”
I’m the baby of the group, and I’m currently sixty-six years old. We all graduated the same year from the same high school. When we get together, we tell a lot of the same stories (from our glory days), relish in our victories, and relive our defeats (sometimes). Either my memory is beginning to fade, or the stories are getting a bit embellished along the way.
I’ve always assumed this is a good thing. I’m not sure why. Living in the past is not considered healthy, but revisiting it from time to time seems to be therapeutic. The older I get, the more nostalgic I become. I suppose this is normal—or at least I like to think so (although I’ve never been accused of being particularly normal).
I think part of the therapeutic value lies in the forgiving of past transgressions. Like most other teenagers, we did a few things that were not quite kosher. As we matured, we probably began to realize how awful some of those things were. We weren’t criminals or anything, but we undoubtedly caused a little angst along the way if not some real hurt. Occurrences like BCVIII are as healing as they are fun.
I think this is very Biblical, in fact. Have you ever read about the night Jesus was betrayed? Peter was gathered around a charcoal fire with some people when they asked (or accused) him of being a follower of the prisoner, Jesus. He adamantly denied it—three times, in fact. That had to be a memory that left an extremely foul taste in Peter’s memory banks.
“The Creator understands his creation.”
After Jesus’ resurrection, he met the disciples on a shoreline in Galilee. He was cooking some fish over a charcoal fire. As that familiar charcoal fragrance wafted in the air, Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. Peter answered in the affirmative.
Jesus didn’t let it lie there, however. He asked him two more times. In the presence of that charcoal smell, Peter answered three times that he loved Jesus. You don’t have to be a psychologist to see what was going on there. Peter was being healed of the horrible memories of that fateful night. The Creator understands his creation.
Nostalgic or not, we need events that allow us to revisit the old days. They’re restorative, and they’re necessary. My friends and I might never really grow up, but we will be healed. Thanks be to God!
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently the pastor of Smith Chapel, in Great Falls, VA.]