For the first twenty years, my experience at my college reunions were what I expected and hoped they would be: a good time where I would see old friends and meet peers who I had missed the first time around
On most reunion schedules, there is a listing for a worship service, which usually takes the form of a memorial. I stayed far away from this event for two decades until I arrived at my twenty-fifth reunion when, after my first bout with cancer, the passing of several friends, and the challenges that families face, the reunion "service" had a particular draw for me. I was not alone. Five years later, the service became the defining event of the reunion for me.
As one of the few clergy in our class, I was asked to participate in leading the service. When I climbed into the pulpit of Memorial Church, I looked out to a full audience, not a space in the house. At 9:00am on a Saturday morning after a late night (well ok, not so late night) of socializing, no less. A miracle? Perhaps. (I think so.)
On that morning, we all came together, looking for comfort, asking for healing, hoping for understanding, and seeking to find peace, affirmation and love. And to the surprise of many, we did. There was no hint of judgment, no feeling of competition, no sense of jealousy. Instead, we were engulfed with the gift of breath, the peace of being still, the sounds from talented musicians from our class and the words of sacred text.
At the end of the day, I was asked to "close" the event. By that time we had moved from the chapel and into an auditorium where we offered "glimpses" of each other's stories. The setting was too informal for a benediction and to deep to merely wish folks good luck. So I offered this blessing. May the words I shared with them be a blessing to those of you who will gather at your own reunions in the next few days and weeks.
A College Reunion Blessing
Blessings to our classmates who have departed from this place, may our memories of you this morning show your living presence in our lives.
Blessings to those who morn those who have passed, to the spouse, the child, the roommate, the team mate, the friend, may our prayers and presence today warm your heart with the renewal that comes with remembering.
Blessings to those who have endured unspeakable loss. May your profound emptiness be tempered by those of us who are here for you. We weep and look to you as we prepare for our own heartbreak.
Blessings to the those who sit here today, struggling with failing bodies and exhausted souls, may there be relief from your pain and may hope fill your hearts. Your courage is inspiring and instructive knowing that the space you are in is a place all of us will enter.
Blessings to those who entered school but never felt that they belonged. May your bitterness be acknowledged and your broken heart heal as we seek to find you and bring you back to this family.
Blessings to those who are lonely in a world full of noise and playfulness, to those who will leave here with nowhere to go. May you accept our invitation into our lives, our homes and our families, and know that our interest in you is true.
Blessings to those who have felt the burden of great disappointment, who have not lived up to their definition of success and a meaningful life. May your hearts be healed with the understanding that you are affirmed and valued by your classmates.
Blessings to those who are barren, who have never experienced birth pangs or father feelings. Know that that our children rely on your interest and investment in them.
Blessings to those who are ashamed, who are overwhelmed by guilt and by regret, may grace abide and the healing power of reconciliation visit you immediately at your doorstep.
Blessing to our children, both those with college acceptances and those who struggle from addiction and disorder, may they all know that they are loved by those of us in this room and by the giver of life.
Blessings to those who have brought and found joy in our class, who delivered it upon our arrival and continue to this day. May you know our gratitude and the gift that you offer.
Blessings to this day, and to the days ahead, however may they may be. May we see the color that we missed, savor the beer that we once chugged, sip the wine we once gulped, and be sill where we were once restless.
Blessings to those who are members of this class, this family, this community. May you be a light in the world that is thirsting for your wisdom, hungry for you kindness and anticipating your presence.
Blessings, Blessings, Blessings
To download a printable version of A College Reunion Blessing, click here.
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