Thursday, September 5, 2013

Reflections on my 35th Class Reunion

“All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts,
 William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

“Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
--Muriel Siebert

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

A few years ago, I was working out at the YMCA.   I really did not go there to workout as much as I go to watch television on all 8 of their big screen televisions!  As to not reveal my true intention for standing around on the treadmill, I had to act like I was really working out.  That is not an easy feat!

 As I began my workout, I happened to catch the morning news crew standing outside of their New York studio interviewing a group of teenagers.  The teenagers were standing in front of a big banner they had brought along with them, holding it up and waving at the cameras in hopes of being seen on national television.  It took a second for the name of the school on the banner to register with me.  Much to my surprise, they were from my alma mater, South Knox High School in Verne, Indiana! 

It is hard to believe that I graduated from South Knox 35 years ago this past May!   Thirty-five years ago, I wore my cap and gown, received my diploma, stepped off the platform and out into the world of life, filled with my many hopes and dreams.

Looking back on where I envisioned myself going as I left that the high school gym that night and where I am today, serving as a Presbyterian minister and working as a teacher, living in McFarland, Wisconsin was even a part of my wildest dreams.

35 years ago, I dreamed of owning a pickup truck, learning to dance like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and making it past a semester in college.  I still held out some hope that the girl of my dreams would go out on a date with me, and I dreamed of playing in a country music band. 

For the record, I never got that truck, I never had a date with Sara, and my wife informs me I can’t dance.  However, there was one dream that came true.  For two summers, I sang with the Hard Times Country Band, all-be-it, it was just one song each summer.  Still, it was a dream come true! (Of course, the people in the audience probably thought it was a nightmare!)

In an e-mail with a classmate, we reflected on our high school days and where we are in life today.   At one point, we talked about the 2003 senior trip to New York City and how we did not have that opportunity when we were in school to go on a “class trip.”

My classmate said, “Of course my senior trip consisted of a honeymoon in January and then a trip to the hospital in June for the birth of my son.  But, you know, I don’t think I would trade my experiences for anything.  Only thing I missed were a few parties during my senior year, but then again, I am not sure that was all bad missing them.”

She closed her e-mail with these words - “Well better go for now.  I have to be in Evansville early tomorrow morning for my clinical.  I am finishing my Masters Degree in Nursing program.  Just three more classes after this one and I will be finished with my degree by July of 2004 – Yee Haw!”

35 years ago, her dreams took a different direction then mine.  She married, started a family all within the last months of our graduating.  After raising her family, she then went on to finish her Master’s Degree.  My life took a much different direction, one filled with heartache, pain, and disappointment.  Life also presented me with some great joys that I never imaged.  Here I am, 35 years later, a husband, a father, a minister, and an educator living in the nations Dairy Land.  Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”― Søren Kierkegaard

In the movie, Field of Dreams, there is a scene where Kevin Costner’s character Ray Kinsella, following the strange voice that has been haunting him - has gone to Chisholm, Minnesota to find a young baseball player named Archie “Moonlight” Graham.  When he finally meets “Moonlight” Graham, he learns people haven’t called him that in over 50 years.  The people of Chisholm knew him as “Doc” Graham.

After making it to the “Show” for an inning, never getting to bat and knowing that he would be sent back down to the majors, he hung up his spikes and became a doctor.  When Ray Kinsella asks him if he had an unfulfilled dream, Doc Graham says, “You know I never got to bat in the major leagues.”  When offered the chance to make that dream come true, Doc Graham says, “It will have to stay a wish.  I was born here, lived here, and I’ll die here.  But no regrets.”

Ray Kinsella can’t accept that idea. He argues, almost angrily that -  “50 years ago, you came within 5 minutes of making your dream come true, It would kill some people to come that close to a dream and not touch it.  Some would even call it a tragedy!”

 To which Doc Graham replies, “Son, if would only have gotten to be a doctor for five minutes now that would have been a tragedy.”

A crack of the bat, an out, a season over and one dream dies and another is born.  A young man becomes a doctor in a small town touching the lives of many people.  What dreams may come.

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

For me, this is what the screen writers were trying to communicate to us through the movie character, “Doc” Graham.  I believe this is what my classmate came to realize about her life.  It is what I have come to realize about my own life’s journey.  May you come to understand the power of reflection as you live forward into the one dream that guides our living – God’s dream.

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