Tag Archives: reunion

The Grateful Dead

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When I was growing up, our family would sometimes take a Sunday drive in the afternoon, either to visit relatives or just for fun.  The two older siblings would share the back seat and I, being the youngest, would sit on the floor board on either side of “the hump”.  While driving around, we would pass several familiar sites including cemeteries.  Invariably, one of us would smugly state, “people are just dying to get in there!” followed by an instant head turn from mom, a disapproving glare followed by a chiding comment of how we shouldn’t disrespect the dead.  All the while, we siblings would respond with satisfied smiles and quiet giggles.

As I look back, that comment seemed so funny at the time but certainly less so as I get older.  For in youth, a day seems like an eternity but as the stark reality of midlife adulthood creeps in, you begin to experience the sting of death as you lose loved ones and soon acknowledge that your own life is but a mere vapor in the wind.   Sounds pretty morbid, huh?  Well, it depends on your perspective.

You see, there are many differing views about death and if there is “life on the other side”.  Some believe there is simply nothing after death, the light switch is merely set to the “off” position and you become a buffet for all sorts of creepy crawlers.  If that was the case, I guess I would have an epitaph that reads, “I was serious about life but now I’m just a fungi”…Others believe that you are reincarnated as another creature or human depending on how good or bad you were in your previous life.  I guess if you came back as a dung beetle, you could easily figure out why…Still others believe they will be rewarded in paradise by what they did on earth; their reward being measured by the number of virgins they receive in paradise based on how much they pleased their God.  I wonder if their hell was also based on something similar but they quickly ran out of virgins and would have to support all of them for eternity…

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to make light of death as much as bring a different perspective to light.  Death is part of life; “From ashes to ashes, dust to dust; we came from the earth and to return we must”.  We mourn those we have lost because we miss them terribly; there is a huge gaping hole left in our heart that only God can heal.  But for the followers of Christ, there is a hope that extends beyond the grave.  John 3:16 (NIV) states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 14:2-3 (NIV) reflects, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?   And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  If I truly trust God’s word in its’ entirety, then there really is a concrete hope that we can hold on to, not only that we will see our loved ones again that trusted in Jesus, but we will live eternally with Christ!

And so we hold on to that very hope and truth as we go about our day to day lives; knowing that it is not about when or how we die but actually how we live and Who we live for in this life that makes an eternal difference in the next.  That’s why it is so vitally important that we know the One who created us, who loves us more than we could ever imagine; being a living testimony of Christ in us until the day comes when we take our last breath.  I will then be in peace and at peace, one of the grateful dead.  For having lived and being loved in life, I must then await my final judgment but knowing I have an advocate with my Father.

My only hesitancy in death is leaving my loved ones in pain and grief.  For as I know from pain filled experience, there is a peace to know your loved one is with the Lord but we humans have to deal with the emotional fall out of their passing and the huge void left in their place.  But be comforted in the fact that we can be united once again.  I Thessalonians 4:16-17 reads, For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.   After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”  When Christ returns, I can’t wait to be caught up with everyone else for that great reunion.  I bet I won’t even have that fear of heights anymore.  I’ll just be eternally grateful for the grace given to a wretch like me.

Forty

forty

The number forty has always been a very significant number in biblical history.  Moses was up on the mountain with God for forty days and nights and came back down with ten little laws to live by…well, at least to keep the Israelites in line–the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 34:28)  It rained for forty days and nights and flooded the earth.  Can you imagine what the dew point level was when Noah landed on Mount Ararat? (Genesis 7:1-24) The grumbling Israelites wandered through the desert for forty years until the entire generation of grumblers had perished. (Numbers 14:26-35)  Prior to the beginning of his ministry, even Jesus fasted and prayed forty days while being tempted by Satan in the wilderness.  Just think what will power Jesus must have had to fast for forty days while the devil is holding up their version of a Big Mac and fries?! (Matthew 4:1-11)

Fast forward to the 21st century and the number forty is still a major milestone in our lives for it marks the unofficial “end” of our chronological youth and a large misstep into maturity.  That’s right boys and girls; it marks the end of your association with the “in crowd” as you cross over to the “Over-the-Hill” gang…It begins so innocently with all things black and unique gift ideas that include: Preparation H, denture cream, denture cleaner, walkers, canes, wheelchairs…I don’t have time for an exhaustive list but you get the idea.  This “special” birthday usually ends in a severe case of depression, re-evaluation of your life and staring directly into the bright light of the oncoming train called midlife crisis.  It’s that time of life when things that happen to “other people” begin to happen to you!  The sad thing is, I’ve already had that special birthday plus enough years to make up a legal high school graduate…(OK, for those of you who are trying to figure this out…40+18=?)

Hhhmmm…where was I?…Oh yeah…high school graduate and another “forty” event.  This evening on August 12th, 2016 at Burr Oak lodge in Ohio, folks will be kicking off the Fortieth high school reunion for the Nelsonville-York class of 1976—GO BUCKEYES!  This weekend is sure to be packed with a lot of fun memories and life stories and even though I won’t be physically present, I WILL be there in spirit.

The year 1976 was of course our country’s bicentennial year and even though our school colors were brown, off white, and orange (blame my brother’s class for picking those stupid colors minus the orange…) we had to graduate in bicentennial red, white, and blue.  It was the age of vinyl records and vinyl platform shoes, of bell bottom jeans and leisure suits.  And as I look back, it was also an age of confusion.

I have to smile as I think back of how serious we were in high school; trying to make those good grades, attempting to fit in and just survive until graduation day came along.  We had our jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs, bandy’s, the cool kids, and of course “the others” which had to be placed in the miscellaneous category.  We had the ones that were “all that”…I didn’t know what “all that” was but I was sure I didn’t have it, didn’t know where to find it, and didn’t even know whether it was contagious…

I remember vividly thinking on our special day, after the diplomas were handed out, “oh crap, what now”?…life my friend…and so it was that our graduating class was dispersed in the winds to work, go to college, start raising families and to find out who we really were without a secure support system.

The first few class reunions after graduation seemed to be a five year regrouping of the jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs, bandy’s, the cool kids, and of course “the others”.  By now, reunions seem to be more like survivalist camps for we have all survived a few decades of life with all its’ possibilities, realities, pain, joy and regret.  Many of us have been forever changed by illness and loss but have also been able to smile and continue on with the support of our loved ones.  Most of us by now have had children and grandchildren and are thrilled to watch the next generations play their part in this big family called humanity.

But guess what Class of 76?  We are not dead yet!  We are not finished playing our role in this dramatic play called life.  Only God knows what He holds for our futures but I bet we have a few more “forty” experiences ahead of us.  Our careers may be winding down in the next few years or so but our responsibility to be good examples for our future generations still needs to be as strong as ever.  As for me, God willing, it will be a fortieth wedding anniversary in a few years.  I’m just trying to make sure the number forty doesn’t pop up around the waist…

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 Psalm 103:17-18 (NLT)  But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!

Luke 1:50 (NLT) He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.