My Psalm 53
Evolution for Reunion
The concept of a reunion is not new. The first known use of the word was in 1610, based upon the Latin “re” meaning again and the French “union” meaning united. Churches began having reunions but called them Mothering Sunday or Coming Home Sunday in the 1600’s. In Anglican tradition, the fourth Sunday in Lent is Mothering Sunday. Workers were given the day off to return to their home parishes. School reunions are a more recent type of reunion and include every type of school from elementary to university.
In 1512 the Protuguese navigator Pedro de Mascarenhas made a different type of reunion. Discovering a large group of island or archipelago located in the southwestern part of the Indian Ocean previously visited by both Arab and European sailors, he renamed them the Mascarenes with individual island names of Mauritius, Rodrigues and Reunion. In 1642 the French settled Reunion Island and renamed is Ile Bourbon. Coffee became the cash crop of the island but later, due to a loss during the Napoleonic Wars, ownership passed from the French to the British. Vanilla was introduced and again agriculture turned the island into something of a paradise. However, slavery reared its ugly head and slave revolts negatively affected the island’s commerce. After World War II, the French government once again showed an interest in Reunion Island due to its proximity to Madagascar.
The island Reunion is a little microcosm of our planet Earth. There are tropical beaches and 3000-plus high peaks, volcanoes and forests. The geographical contrast is evident in its human population and the cultural diversity. The island could well be a blue print for the future if it can withstand the onslaught of globalization, consumerism and neo-colonialism. In short, all of Mother Earth can be found united, coming together as a volcanic island known as Reunion. The evolution from volcano to lush farmland, the cultural evolution from free native to slave to the European professional often found vacationing on what has become known as the Europe of the Indian Ocean reflects the history of this planet.
Our own personal histories undergo a similar evolution and, many times, we hasten back to where we once lived to be in reunion with others. Recently a question was posed: “Do we remain the person we were inside? Does the adult stray far from the child he’/he once was?” Seeking the answers to those questions is most likely the sole purpose of the reunion – any reunion.
June 1847 saw seven hundred people celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the College of New Jersey. Attendees at Commencement festivities often included previous graduates and in 1859, Alfred Woodull, a graduate in 1856, organized the first official class reunion, to be held triennially. He was guaranteed success with his place because it was college policy that anyone who returned to the campus for Commencement three years after graduation would be awards an automatic master’s degree.
In 1861, a Confederate Civil War regiment passed through the town where the college was located. The students were enthralled with the “skyrocket” cheer of the soldiers which served to imitate fireworks: “sis” for the zooming rocket; “boom” for the explosions; “ahhh” for the crowd’s response. Incorporating this cheer into the traditional alumni march to the commencement ceremony, the College called this part of the reunion the “Locomotive” exercise. Once the school’s colors became orange and black, the word “tiger” was added at the end of the skyrocket cheer. Today this reunion tradition is known as the P-rade, a combination of the school’s new name, changed in 1986, and the word parade. The Princeton reunion festivities rank among school reunions finest, though the awarding of automatic master’s degrees stopped in 1892. Now, people come back to illustrate their personal evolutions and celebrate the school’s.
Our personal evolution which is celebrated in the returning to our roots begs the question – How great is childhood? St Augustine is quoted as having once said: “Who would not shudder if he were given the choice of eternal death or life again as a child? Who would not choose to die?” It is a rather startling quote but the truth is that while most societies and cultures have throughout history been patriarchal, the historical family has been a gynarchy. Fathers in traditional families seldom contributed to the emotional atmosphere of the family unit nor did they actively participate in raising the children.
Perhaps then it makes sense that we return to our beginnings to show that we have indeed grown. Is our growth, though, a metamorphosis or merely part of our preordained life cycle? For some, the reunion is a chance to get back at those who had no expectations for their classmate. Sadly, the highly successful discover that rather than being happy at being wrong, their classmates see only yet another chasm between them – this time being opulence instead of acne or geeky habits. For others, the reunion is a chance to catch up and often, they discover that many would rather wallow in the past rather than share they are swimming in less-than-perfect lives. In other words, few share the reality of their present self.
For most, though, they return because it was an important part of their lives. Whether pleasant or painful, these were the people who influenced your growing. For some it is continuing along a predictable path and for others, it is a complete rebirth. Hopefully, though, what we take from our reunions is that life has been worth it and that we have become comfortable with our evolution.
Beginning from molten lava, Reunion Island became a thriving, oasis of diverse experiences. From childhood to adulthood, we too experience diverse opportunities. In our lives we are the rocket experiencing the “sis” of our efforts and the “boom”, living the results – good and bad – of our endeavors. The reunion gives us the chance to experience the “ahhh” even if we are the only ones saying it. The evolution of childhood is a path and as we walk we may try new ways to travel, new clothes to wear. Some might call this change; others might call it growth. The good might get better and they might just stay the same but in the end, the bad gets gone. The miracle of life is what we make it.
My Psalm 53
One looked around and asked:
“What have you done?
What is your worth?”
The Maker looked around and wondered:
Do any see?
Are they listening?
What have they learned?
Where is the growth?
Where is the sharing?
Where is the loving?
Why are they?”
The future is for those who see.
The Maker will redeem those for whom life has had purpose.
When we truly celebrate life in our living, then we will be reunited with love eternal and be joyful.