Monday, October 21, 2013

High School Reunion Times Sixty

 Ever been back to a High School Reunion? I went to my 25th High School Reunion—35 years ago! Then this past weekend I went to my 60th Reunion. Any changes in those thirty-five years?  Some of us were on walkers. Some could hardly hear at all—if at all. If I squinted I could recognize some that came. Here and there I saw a Cheerleader, a majorette. Way back in the back was a football player or two. Where’s so and so, I asked? Either they were lost in the mists of time or too sick to come or just were not with us anymore. I looked around and a wave of sadness just washed over me. Time had done it’s damage on all of us. Yet—those that came were alive and laughing and having an enormously good time.

They asked me to have a Devotional on Sunday morning, over breakfast before we scattered. Hmm. One of about two Reverends in the class—I guess they were wanting some kind of pious, fire and brimstone sermon or some little Scripture passage which I would irrelevantly bore them with. That’s what I tried not to do.

A week before my wife and I had gotten tickets to the Dave Letterman Show, which was a lot of fun. As he usually does Dave gave us a top ten list of some crazy subject. So-I told my aging brothers and sisters I had my own top ten lists. This is what I tried to say over eggs and grits and a heap of sausages.

Number 10 – Live Until You Die. Just because we are in our seventies does not mean we are ready for the cemetery. We’ve still got some living to do. I know the media thinks anybody who is not 22 and svelte or trim or good looking or successful is not very important. They don’t write our agenda or can push us over to the side. Live all the way to the finish line.

Number 9 – Don’t live in the past. It was easy last weekend to remember back. The time we kissed our first sweetheart or fell in love for the first time. The great year our school won the State Championship in Basketball. The fun we had and the friends we made. Looking back is wonderful—but we old timers shouldn’t live there. Every football weekend in our town I see them everywhere. They graduated in’53 or they remembered the time we won the National Championship. And they sit around on bar stools—half drunk with misty eyes. “Remember when...” they say. I know Coca Cola used to cost a dime and movies were not more than a quarter. Forget that. The Apostle Paul said, “Today is the day of salvation.” Look around you, over your shoulder, and live right now. Today.

Number 8 – Forgive Your Enemies—Forgive Yourself. A lot of us carry some heavy baggage from the past. Somebody tripped us up or fired us or treated us cruelly. And some of us still suck on that poison. We don’t have time to carry all that stuff around. We have to let it go. It’s surprising how light we feel when we just drop it. We also have to forgive ourselves. Sometimes this is the heaviest baggage of them all. The things that shame us. The things we wished we had never done. The bad choices we made in vocation or marriage. Arthur Miller said in one of his plays, “There comes a time when we have to take ourselves in our own arms.” Travel lightly—it’s healthier.

Number 7 – You’re only as old as you act. Old age is a state of mind. If you think you are over the hill—you are over the hill. There is a mental age and a chronological age. They should not be one and the same. As I said we’re not dead by a long shot. Don’t act like it.

Number 6 – Get outside Your Bubble. We feel so comfortable talking to the people that agree with us. That hold the same prejudices we do. That tell us what we already know or what we want to hear. When we do this we are stuck. Learn something new. Get a Bucket List and try to spread your wings in ways you never thought. Try something you never did. This might just energize us all.

Number 5 – Be kind. Old people can sometimes be quite crotchety. When William James’ nephew was going off to school he asked his uncle if he had any advice. And James said, “Only six words. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind.”  Wherever we go— let's spread some kindness. The whole world aches. We might just make somebody’s day—and in doing so our own.

Number 4 – Sing the Doxology every day. Forget pity parties.Grateful people are fun to be around. Think of those who helped us get to where we are. Those that stood with us through it all and loved us even when we were unlovable. Be grateful.

Number 3 – Carry some Faith wherever you go. One of the tom-tom beats in the Bible from beginning to end is: “Do not be afraid.” Wonder why it is there so often? It's the heart of faith.I love the quote from Patrick Overton  “When walk to the edge of all the light we have...And take a step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen--There will be something solid for us to stand on, Or, we will be taught how to fly.”

Number 2 – Never Give up. One of the women in our group came on a walker. The crazy airline lost it. They finally had to give her a replacement. And there she was at breakfast. One woman had lost her husband two weeks before. And she came that morning. When Churchill was asked the secret of England’s endurance during World War II. It was a terrible time. London alone had been bombed over 70 times. How did they survive? Old Churchill stuck out his chin and said,“We never gave up.  Never, never, never did we give up.”

Number 1 –Make the World Better Than You Found It.  While I was in my hometown my brother took me to eat at a great hot-dog place. As we walked in, I remembered they had torn my old high school down. And the owner of the restaurant somehow had gotten the cornerstone and there it was at the entrance to this eatery. It read: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” It was a saying of Horace Mann. Let's do something to make our world better. This is a hard time to live. Maybe it has always been. But let's not leave here without leaving our fingerprints somewhere that matters.

I finished last Sunday morning and sat down. Thinking back, maybe I had just given myself something to try to live by, too.

       by--Roger Lovette.

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