Finding God's Winning Spirit

"Class of _________"

June 15, 2015 | Greg Smith | Christianity

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Most everyone is going to have to negotiate high school reunions. As far as I am concerned there are three types of people when it comes to this: those who will never attend, those who love this kind of thing and those who begrudgingly go because it is in their home town – I am probably the latter.

To make things worse I was asked to say “a few words and pray a short prayer” at my 45th (reunions are bad enough but 45th!) for those classmates who had passed away.  For me to say a few words and pray is no big deal and I agreed to do it. As the reunion neared, and I became aware of the 20 some odd class members who had died, I began to feel the importance of such a memorial moment. Something that began as a minor inconvenience/obligation had become a humbling and significant responsibility.

I began to panic; I did not want to screw this up. I did what any responsible college kid would do and googled “high school reunion memorial speeches.”  I did not find much – I was on my own. If you ever get this call perhaps the following might help – here are a few of my remarks:

     … Watermarks is a the term that I came up with that refers to those moments for parents that allow us to notice or acknowledge that our kids are growing up; a time to pause, stop and mark the passing of time. Watermarks are life’s lines drawn on the door- jams of the bathroom measuring the growth of our kids – you know what I mean, 3 feet, 3'3", 4 feet and on and on. Watermarks tend to pop up at the” first time” for things like the first bicycle, the first day of school, the first girlfriend, the first car etc.

We as adults also have watermarks, teachable moments for big people; times in our lives to stop and take stock.  Graduating from college, getting engaged, our first real job and our first child are all adult watermarks.

High school reunions are watermarks. This being the case the question for me then became, “What do these faces in this memorial booklet have to teach me today?”

The first thing that comes to mind is how powerful relationships can be even though they are not close-by or active. Therapists will tell you that intimacy is driven by common experiences, feelings and interactions. No matter how long it's been since we have seen any of these departed classmates we share a common past. We can live the rest of our lives and never meet anybody who remembers where we all met after football games, hung out on weekends or the private jokes about the people we grew up with. No one will really see us or know us like our high school pals did. 

For me, thinking of our deceased classmates is like being on a cruise ship. We all started our journey together with fellow travelers debarking at different ports of call, never to rejoin us on the cruise called life. Even though we are caught up in our travels there is a sense that we have lost part of our crew, part of our common unique past – as a class we are no longer complete.

Some say that remembering deceased classmates at class reunions validates their existence. As I look at the pictures in this memorial booklet I would not dare to think anything I would say could validate them. They need no validation from me/us. Their lives, their contributions and their achievements, no matter how brief, validated who they were. It is through God who created them that they are validated; certainly not by anything I can say.

As I look at these departed faces I wonder what they would tell us. What would their advice be to us today? If we were to trade places with them what would our message be to our surviving friends? That would be the essence of the teachable moment for us today. I do not know about you but for me that message would be, “Embrace the people here today and drink in these moments with your fellow shipmates in life.”

These are some of my thoughts but there are also many feelings. Sure there is the feeling of sadness as I reminisce and recall those faces before me, sadness not only for my loss but for their spouses and family members.

I also feel regret. Regret that I didn't get to know these classmates as well as I should have. Regret that I was young, stupid, self-centered and unaware of how important those around me were. Regret that I missed the opportunity to speak to them and learn from them.

I am thankful. I am thankful that although there has been loss in my life I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who are still here and make up my community and relationships. I am in fact blessed which often comes to mind from (appropriately or inappropriately) the loss and misfortune of others.

Most of all I feel at peace. Here in the midst of this celebration (watermark) I feel a sense of calmness that no matter what the future holds for me that through God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ I am well taken care. There is a sense of peace knowing that when my picture appears in this booklet that there is a place prepared for me – that at the end of my journey all things will once again be complete ….

Glad I found this...hope to get together soon with you in Auburn.
Posted by Ray Havron on
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