Last weekend, I made the 4½ hour trek back to my hometown. I try to do that at least a couple times a year, but this particular trip was for a special purpose. Fifty years ago, I graduated from high school with about 125 other young, aspiring adolescents. I’m not sure what all we were aspiring to, but many of us made it back for the annual alumni banquet.
As soon as I began seeing some of those familiar faces from my past, an unfamiliar thought raced through my mind. I just didn’t realize how much I love these guys (and gals)! I hadn’t seen some of them in fifty years. But I quickly realized that the bond was still there.
“It was a bit gratifying…”
I was a shy, introverted, self-conscious teenager attempting to break out of my shell (probably not very successfully at the time). Because of that, there were many of my classmates I never got to know as well as I should have. Still, it was a comfort and a joy to see their faces—not to mention that it was a bit gratifying to discover they still remember me despite my ingrown personality.
One thing that surprised me was how young they all still look. Sure, we had a couple of wrinkles, a little less hair, and a few more pot guts. But overall, we still seem to have it going on. I’m not sure if that’s just my perspective, or if it’s really true. I suppose a teenager walking into that banquet hall would have merely seen a bunch of old geezers. To me, however, we were still teenagers—a tad more mature and a bit hardened by the past fifty years—but teenagers nonetheless.
I tend to be a bit nostalgic anyway, but this weekend was really good for me. I hope it was the same for everyone else. I’m not sure what it is about nostalgia, but it gets me every time. I’m just a tiny blip on the radar screen of life, so it seems like a really big thing to get back to my roots from time to time.
“No one will even remember…”
My life is quickly passing, and in a couple generations, no one will even remember who I am. But while I’m here, it’s good to know I mean something to at least a few people. The folks who came up and gave me a hug and a big smile mean everything to me. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
Jesus once famously said that the very hairs on our head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). There might be fewer of them to count these days, but they’re important to him—we’re important to him. When everyone else has forgotten us, he’ll remember—in fact, he’ll never forget.
My classmates (as well as many of the other alumni who gathered last weekend) are a part of me. They helped to make me who I am—for good or for ill. May they always be blessed and remembered.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]