Mrs. Hoxworth-Shirlin’s 4th grade class.

“No one lives for himself alone. No one dies for himself alone.” (Romans 14:7, NLV).

Last night, at my High School Reunion, I was reminded of the words of the apostle Paul as we gathered to celebrate 40 years of life. Our lives are inextricably linked together through time, relationships, and the common threads in our collective history. That reality came streaming back to me in stark, bold relief as our fourth-grade teacher (at least for some of us), entered the room. The class of 1977 was also the very first class ever taught by Janet Hoxworth-Shirlin and I can’t speak for others, but she had a profound impact on my early life. During a time of insecurity and self-doubt she was compassionate, supportive, and inspiring in her teaching.

Other memories emerged as the evening progressed. My selfish indulgence – eating Debbie Wilson’s PBJ sandwich in the second grade, a near arrest with Joe Parker and the Coburn clan in high school, and so many other fence posts we passed along the path of life. It wasn’t just the events we shared that probed the recesses of my mind – it was the reminder that there is a common thread that holds humanity together – that holds all of us together.

Reunion – I looked the word up, just out of curiosity and here is the best definition I could find, “the act or process of being brought together again as a unified whole.” My life is shaped by the people, experiences, and relationships I have built, and at times injured along the way. Either way, we make up the fabric of each other’s lives. Whether people choose to be honest with themselves or not – that is the true journey each of us takes through life – to be unified and made whole.

Last night I laughed with so many over the crazy things we did in our youth, but I also shed a silent tear as many shared the struggles each of us face along the way. That is the real beauty of reunion – a chance to be whole again. To learn that that casual friendships from our youth are not just blips on the radar of life, but a deep integral part of who we are. It is an endless support system of friendships that carry us on through those days we fear to walk alone. It was reassuring to overhear people who hadn’t talked in 10, 20, or 40 years say, “stop in and see me if you are traveling,” or “call me if you just want to talk.”

Henry David Thoreau said, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” and his words ring true more than many of us like to admit. We want everyone to see us at our best and love us at our worst. Last night I was reminded that God put each of you in my life as the glue that holds the broken pieces together. Thank you for being a part of my life and if you are heading south, you are always welcome in our home. Thanks for the memories.

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