I can’t find the words to express what wonderful, beautiful experiences I’ve been having. I arrived in my old hometown on Tuesday, May 16th. I guess I’m on a bit of a pilgrimage, visiting important places and people from my past. My spirit has been filled with each hug and reminiscence. The graciousness and kindness of my youth leaders from decades ago welcomed me into their beautiful home. They launched me into what seems to be non-stop blessing and a feeling of being covered with God’s favor. Their home was the haven that I’ve needed for so long.
Thursday night was a beautiful reunion of old friends (past friends? previous friends? friends from an era long gone?) Let’s say friends who haven’t seen each other for years. Some I haven’t seen for thirty years!
It was a little harder than I’d anticipated to see the friend who introduced Doug and me in March of 1986. He nudged Doug to ask me out that first time. Seven months later he was best man in our wedding. It was bittersweet to see him because I felt a little pang, and I hadn’t expected that, but mostly it was like a breath of fresh air. He’s someone who really knew and loved Doug back then. He was such a close friend and I loved seeing the man he’s become. Then the rest of my high school and youth group friends! Oh, my goodness! There were screams and hugs and tears, and not just from me!
We’ve changed, but we haven’t. We’ve grown. We’ve experienced death, we’ve become more than we were; we’re retiring, we’re beating cancer, we’re becoming grandparents, we’re changing careers in mid-life, and we’re making huge decisions like nobody’s business. Oh, I love these people! I felt a part of me that was a little crazier, a little freer, a little sillier than I have been for a long time. Not that I’ve become stoic, but having been absent from their lives, and then suddenly reunited with them, my high school self was waking up and she wanted out!
I got to see family friends, friends’ parents, my youth leaders and pastors. I felt a bond that gives my soul strength. To have these people in my life as a teenager was a blessing that I hadn’t grasped then. I’ve always felt my life was charmed, and now that I look at such people, I realize they’re part of the reason why. Good people, solid, God-loving people are God’s gift to us, just as we are to be that gift to them. God’s smart that way. I am so grateful for them all, and for the love and care that was shown me. I have a renewed sense of the importance of their place in my life.
I was sent forward with prayer and encouragement and words that were exactly right for where I am and where I’m going. What a beautiful group of friends! Old friends become new. And so, the blessings begin.