Going to my class reunion this past weekend brought up quite a few memories. Some good, some not good....Junior High and High School are often tumultuous, but there were always friends you could rely on. I spent most of my H.S. years "going steady" with one guy, and I worked part time at a nursing home, so I sometimes missed out on friends and school activities. But those friends were always there. There were slumber parties, dances, games to attend, phone calls, and church activities since most of my friends attended the same large church in our city, St. Olaf Lutheran. It takes up nearly a city block and when I attended they had several pastors working with the congregation. It was the beginning of the baby boomers.....lots of kids.....lots. I can "see" other baby boomers nodding their heads in agreement!
The house I lived in with my older sister and her family, is gone now, as that whole area tended to flood with the winding river visible from our backyards. Things changed in the family dynamics, and life moved on. I have pondered why my ties there do not draw me back, but I realized it is partly because Joel did not attend the same school as I did. He is not from my "home town" either. It makes a difference. And we have never gone to Joel's reunions, since he had only a couple friends in H.S., and was more of a loner (which is hard to imagine when he is such an extrovert). He spent most of his spare time helping his brothers on the farm and his mom who went back to work because his dad died and that shifted his priorities.
Having moved 22 times, Joel and I learned to "move on" after leaving a place~ good or bad it is what it is. The military taught us that along with the ministry. When you leave a church, you don't often go back to visit, especially in the early years, because the congregation is adjusting and hugging on a new pastor. So going back or longing for what was has never been part of our lifestyle. We have a few precious long distance friends we have hung on to from the past 48 years but mostly pastors lead lonely lives in the friend department. Then came kids, sickness, choices, life. All that being said, I pondered as I observed the strong connections with people at the reunion.
Speaking of life, I asked Joel what he would really miss about Mason City if we left here, and he shared three things. Then he asked me and I had two things...well not things, but people. My sister and her hubby, even though we don't see them too often, and the friends we connect with at times. I know I would miss other things like our neighborhood, the walking paths, and all the people we know. So we asked ourselves if that was enough to keep us here. (Our children and their families don't live here.) As you can see, the issue of moving or staying has not been settled...:-)
I asked what was a priority for moving? Joel said, "God's will" and we added to that, friends, and a church where we feel we belong.
So why bring all this up? Because healthy, loving relationships are vital for our health. I saw that being lived out at my reunion. The hugs, laughter, patience, tolerance, compassion, the love. I saw that when the Quilts of Valor organization came and handed out quilts to the vets in our class. Many had been to Viet Nam and were treated poorly when they returned. A standing ovation and presentation of quilts brought tears to the eyes of many, including those from our round table of friends who stood proudly before the class. Tears flowed in classmates with gratitude and love.
God made us to interact with others and most importantly with Him! A good place to do that is church. I often hear "I don't need organized religion..... but those same people are deep into organized sports. I went without contact with people for so long, and let me tell you, I was l.o.n.l.e.y. Isolated. I was missing something vital in my life then, and I treasure being "back in the world" now. Oh, people, don't take it for granted. And don't take for granted our freedom to gather together to hear his Word, the teachings of others, and to worship freely. Cherish family, even if you don't agree.....cherish friends......cherish the ability to walk into the doors of a church and give praise to our Lord. Cherish the knowledge that God wants a relationship with us. Always. God......family.....friends. We were created for relationships.