From far-flung states, they’d come. From a far-off country, too, just over the great, big pond, they’d journeyed, drawn, each one, with that imperceptible pull toward home, toward family, toward their roots.
They’d been teens when they’d last been together, faces shining, hopes fresh and dreams alive with the big, wide world stretching just past those double doors. Twenty-six years, eleven souls. Now, on a crisp December night, they’d gathered again, minus two.
It was the class of 1985, my graduating group of seniors. Having moved away as a young woman, I’d not seen many of them for lots-and-lots of years. Now, at long last, I would get the chance to sit down around a table, to see their faces, hug their necks, hear their stories of what life had held since we were teens.
It was surreal, really, to gather in the Learning Center where we’d sat through chapel talks, given speeches, labored through PACEs, and shot the occasional paper wad across the dividers. Now we were back again, many with spouses, some with children, telling our stories…
It’s the stories that grab me; pull me in; undo me. For the class of 1985 has accomplished much. Some of us went on to college. We are nurses, teachers, and a doctor. We are (and have been) secretaries, book keepers, mothers, fathers, missionaries, chaplains. We’ve spoken, written, traveled, telecommuted in a world that has shifted, changed like quicksand since that day in May.
The class of 1985 has suffered much, too. There were no warnings of hard things to come that night; no “heads up, it’s gonna get choppy” to steel us for what was ahead. Nothing to really prepare us for life in the wild; life in the real world. All those stories…
How one of us, a father and nurse, cannot revive his tiny daughter. How he and his wife stand beside a hospital bed, hearts in pieces, and make a decision no parent wants to make.
A mother and teacher whose family escapes the flames with only the clothes on their backs. And then, as shovel is set to touch soil, rebuilding their home, an awful diagnosis – cancer.
Another one, a mother and secretary, delivers prematurely. He’s a fighter, her tiny boy in his bassinet. And then…a human error, and she’s standing by his grave in her husband’s arms.
Such suffering. But such strength, for every single one of the class of 1985 is walking with Jesus. Through fire and sickness, through great loss and devastation, their testimony is strong. They are using (thank God!) their unique talents, gifts, and abilities as world changers in Kansas. In Ohio. In California. In South Carolina. In Indiana, Albania, and Alabama.
I’ve listened to their words, giving thanks. I’ve seen peace on their faces, giving witness. I’ve watched their lives, giving glory to the Lord Christ.
That Christmas trip to home, to family, to my roots, has moved me deeply. For it’s one’s past – your history – that gives you your “you-ness.” What a gift it is to find that these friends, so rooted next to me in the Kansas soil, are still brothers and sisters, walking well, walking strong, walking true.
Giving thanks, for all is well,