“…And I thought about years
How they take so long
And they go so fast…”
Beth Nielsen Chapman, Years
The Bryn Athyn high school Class of ’69 has started planning for its 50th reunion in October. A committee of former classmates now living in the area is sending out emails seeking volunteers, ideas, entertainment etc. Replies are trickling back from across the globe – we (100 at our peak) are a widely–scattered bunch.
Fifty years is a long time. It’s been half a century since our graduation; since the original Woodstock Festival; since the first humans walked on the moon. The internet has been invented, as well as phones you can keep in a pocket, transforming the means of communication around the world. Is that communication any better, for being faster? Sometimes, yes. Other times, no. It depends on the people involved.
I’m looking forward to getting to know who the people, my classmates, are now, with an additional 50 years of life under their belts than when we shared those Benade Hall classrooms. We have all ‘grown up’, most have reached retirement age, many have had children and grandchildren, some have moved on to the next world. I’ve kept up with a few once in a while; most others I have neither seen nor spoken to for at least 20 years (since our 30th reunion or before).
Some people won’t be able to come. Some probably won’t want to come. I suspect that most of our paths turned out differently than we had planned or hoped for, and presented us with choices and options we had not anticipated. Did we always make good choices? Most unlikely! But did we learn and grow from making them? Most probably.
“Here’s the thing, say Shug. The thing I believe. God is inside you and inside everybody else. You come into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it. And sometimes it just manifest itself even if you not looking, or don’t know what you looking for. Trouble do it for most folks, I think. Sorrow, lord. Feeling like ****.” (from The Color Purple, Alice Walker)
We are allowed to see Divine Providence from behind but not face to face [i.e. after the fact but not before], and when we are in a spiritual state, not in a materialistic state [i.e. seeing it from heaven and not from this world]. (Divine Providence 187.4)
For how many is the New Church still central to their thinking? Have any shifted to other faiths, or away from any belief? If they’ve drifted away from religion, why have they? And even if they have, are any of the things they learned from the New Church still important to them? Do they still have dreams or goals to fulfill? Have they reached a place of mental peace?
Peace has in it confidence in the Lord, that He directs all things, and provides all things, and that He leads to a good end. (Secrets of Heaven 8455)
Time and space are very real in this world, but in the next world they are states of mind rather than physical realities (still absolutely real, but not in the same way). Having moved far from my original home, I’ve come to believe that if a bond exists, our souls can subtly communicate, regardless of physical distance (even between this world and the next). Of course, in this world the internet helps!
None of us can truly know what path the Lord is leading someone else along – indeed, we often don’t know the path WE are being led along. This reunion will be a chance to learn about our different paths through life, about others’ particular choices along the way. I hope everyone who comes will be open to sharing some of this process, and be accepting of each other’s decisions. We are getting older – such an opportunity to really talk about how our lives have developed, with those we shared those important teenage years with, is unlikely to be repeated. Our bodies are aging; despite that, we are (hopefully) getting a little wiser. Looking back over our lives, can we see Providence in action? How far have we got with the command in Ezekiel 18.31 to ‘Make [ourselves] a new heart and a new spirit’?
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)
Those who are guided by kindness … hardly even notice evil in another but pay attention instead to everything good and true in the person. When they do find anything bad or false, they put a good interpretation on it. This is a characteristic of all angels — one they acquire from the Lord, who bends everything bad toward good. (Secrets of Heaven 1079)
However our reunion turns out, I hope my old classmates are well on their way to finding acceptance of themselves and others, and that they feel confidence for their own futures. I firmly believe that the Lord – kind and wise father that He is – guides every one of us in the ways that suit us best, whether we acknowledge Him or not.