SMALL THINGS CAN BECOME SO BEAUTIFUL. A LITTLE CARING, A LITTLE SHARING, THAT’S ALL LIFE IS. – OSHO
I went to a Catholic elementary school and a Catholic high school. These were followed by undergraduate and graduate studies in Catholic Universities. It was a thing…okay? I’ll leave it at that. I’m not sure how it was growing up in other schools, but going to a Catholic grade school and high school with actual nuns was an experience that creates bonds for life. Not too romanticize it too much, I do realize that people did have bad experiences growing up in the Catholic school system, and any system for that matter, but that’s not what I’m going to focus on here. So, to all those hurt by their Catholic school experience, you are not forgotten, at least not by me and some of your other alumni.
When you spend that much time with people, well you just can’t help but get to know them. Of course, some you know better than others. Some you like better than others. We grew up together. We knew about each other’s families, especially in elementary school. We had similar experiences and shared experiences that are suspended in time. Girls had ugly school uniforms. In grade school, we had to brown bag it for lunch. We knew names like Sr. Mary Cecelia, Sr. Mary Constance, Sr. Mary Patrick, Sr. Leone. We lined up by two’s to go to daily mass. We had rules: Rules we still find absurd.
This past weekend I had a high school reunion. Not everyone wants to go to their high school reunion. I get that. I wasn’t even certain that I was going to go. I do still know and remember many people I knew in high school. I don’t happen to spend a lot of time with them, but when I do see them, I always have such a good feeling that lingers and is not to be duplicated. So, what’s that about? Well, I call it food for the soul.
Not everyone at the reunion had just sweet memories of their good times of high school. A lot of them had some crazy stories about what they did and got away with, the way they were treated or others were treated, and just weird and stupid things that happened. They talked about it all. I’m glad they did. It made it real, and certainly goes to show how time can alter our perspective in a healthy way. I was so happy to see each and every one of them, and hear all the stories, whatever they were. I liked hearing about their stories, and I enjoyed telling them how good it felt to see them. I enjoyed hearing what they remember about me. I enjoyed telling them what I remember about them, and I have a lot of good memories. I enjoyed laughing. But the conversation wasn’t limited to what happened, but what has happened since. How they were different, and in some cases the difference was amazing, and in others the sameness was amazing. It was beautiful to see their young selves in their older faces.
No one was forgotten. Upon entrance, there was a table with a laminated name tag for each classmate with a black and white copy of their Senior class photo. How sweet is that? There was even a place set aside for those who had already passed on to the next world, and in Catholic – speak, that is heaven. They were honored, missed and there with us.
One thing present at this reunion was love…maybe a little corny, but true nonetheless.
Love comes in many forms. Being in a room with people who are so happy to see each other alive and well after so many years is definitely food for the soul. The act of taking the time and effort to make the arrangements (And Big Thank You to all those that did!), and/or to show up for each other after so long does make me take pause. I feel grateful to all those who were there. It isn’t that often for me, and maybe for others, to be in a room full of people just to see each other, happy to see you, to enjoy your time together and to have fun, and it’s not a family reunion. It isn’t often enough for me to be in a room with that feeling. There were no complications about it. It was simple. The best simple. Capturing a sense again of that time in your life, a time that is without the knowing that we know now, had a wonderful lightness of being.
Today, mostly what I recall of the reunion are the great smiles, laughter and warmth. I came without expectation, and left with love and peace in my heart and good memories. Not bad for a Saturday night!
P. S. I dedicate this to John Barger, who I saw at my class reunion and who inspired me to start writing again. Thanks, John!