I’m not good at keeping up with people. Actually, I’m terrible at it. I’m not proud of that, but it seems that daily living keeps me so wrapped up in what’s going on that I simply don’t have time and energy to keep up with all the people I’ve known and enjoyed in life.
I’ve always likened the way I go through life as if it were one of the old, cheap, B-Rated space movies where you see a rocket “blasting” through space on an adventure. The problem with the scene is that the rocket is propelled by something that looks remarkably like a 4th of July sparkler and the rocket ship itself is moving along on a fishing line which is clearly visible. The ship moves like a bubble on a string. That’s how I envision the way I live.
HOWEVER…I recently made an effort to get in touch with some people who have been important to me in the past. And, no, Lord, I’m not talking about old girlfriends who fizzled out like above-mentioned sparklers. (Besides, if I even thought about meeting up with one of them my intuitive, Sicilian wife would know about it before I even made the call and I’d have to deal with the ghost of her father who promised he’d “take me out” if I ever hurt his daughter.)
No, I mean I re-connected with an old seminary friend, a college friend, and a high school friend, and had the pleasure of seeing some “adults” from my childhood. What a bonus!
I wrote my seminary friend, Jeff, rather out of the blue a couple of years ago. He’s left the parish ministry and is now a grape farmer up near LaCrosse, WI. He’s much happier as a grape farmer than he was in the ministry, and he looks so relaxed! Of course, when your passion in life is growing grapes and making wine I guess you really don’t have anything to “wine” about anymore.
My college friend, Dan, was a freshman when I was a sophomore. I was his RA (Resident Advisor) in the dorm in which we lived. At that time the legal drinking age was 18 in Wisconsin, so the dorms were filled with parties. He told me that it was in my room during a memorably raucous floor party just after he arrived to the dorm that he asked what I was going to be “when I grew up”. He had difficulty that particular night believing me when I said I was going to be a minister! Go figure.
I saw my high school friend, Mark, at the funeral for his mother just last week. Mark had many best friends, of whom I was one. We and the group of guys/girls we hung with were together continually, either at his parent’s place near the lake or my parent’s place on the farm. He drove his grandmother’s ’56 Chevy and I had my ’63 Volkswagen which I had painted neon green. Both were memorable cars!
The “adults” I saw were Don & Peggy. Mr. and Mrs. McCollum (as they were known back then) were regulars at our house with my dad and Don sipping from the caffeine-still in deep conversations about world events and politics. They were also members of the UCC church I joined when I was seventeen. (The UCC is the denomination we are a part of, the United Church of Christ). I thought so much of Don that I asked him to give my commission to ministry during my ordination service…a commission you can find in my desk drawer to this day.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because when I saw my friends I was reminded of how much I missed not keeping up with them. And then I realize that in my study of scripture you always keep the past as a reference for the present and future. You don’t get stuck in the past, but by carrying it along you recall the foundation upon which you base your love for a fragile, prone-to-mistake filled people. I realize that if I want to be more complete in life I have to do a better job of keeping grounded in the past so I can stand more firmly today and walk into tomorrow.
Oh sure, there are plenty of people I’m not that interested in seeing again and some I would need to stay away from. But when I look back I see so many people who have helped to shape me to be who I am today, but I haven’t kept up with them to continue to let them shape me…or for me to help shape them.
So, today I want to thank you for all those people who have helped to shape me into who I am today. Maybe you could remind me to give them a call to say thank you. As always, thanks for listening! I love you.
Pastoral Ponderings November 2014