I don’t know why I do it. Every time I do, I make myself a promise I will not do it again. But, over the years, I’ve been unable to maintain my resolve. And I find myself doing it again.
I speak of getting together with those old high school classmates. Every year since we graduated, fifty-five years ago, there’s been a reunion. Sometimes they were lavish affairs. These rolled around every ten years or so. Other times there were more informal events, such as a gathering at a local tavern, owned be an old classmate, a hop, skip, and a jump from the school.
Every time one of these happenings rolls around it’s the same group that organizes them. And that same group is the same group that was the “in group” when we were in high school. What really amazes me is they still talk about the same things they were talking about the day before graduation. They still hang out together. Sometimes it appears their life experience is but an adjunct of those days half a century ago.
And so, I seldom go to the gatherings of the friends of long ago. But, sometimes, I get curious and agree to come. So it was with the last invitation. I accepted the invitation. As soon as I did the former student body president contacted me and asked me to open the gathering with a prayer. I accepted, not because I thought the Lord God Almighty would be there, but because after all these years of ministry I’d never been invited to open a gathering of the soon-to-be-drunks.
I prayed a prayer that went something like this: Precious Lord, we thank you for the great memories we have. We give you thanks for the gray in our hair that is evidence of our growing wisdom; we praise you for the wrinkles around our eyes that are proof we are still looking toward the future. We express our gratitude for the slowness of our walk, because finally we have time to observe the beauty of your creation. Bless our time together, O Lord, because we don’t have that much time left. And before this night ends, O God, grant to me, your humble servant, the courage to finally ask Dorothy Hammond to dance.”
We went about the festivities of the evening. We exchanged memories and lies, talked of children and grandchildren, remembered old and revered teachers, and enjoyed a succulent feast prepared by the expensive caterers. Laughter filled the banquet hall. The music, brought to us by a 50s diskjockey, brought a tapping of the feet and memories of dances long, long ago.
In the middle of one of those memories I felt a tapping on my shoulder. I turned. There stood Dorothy Hammond in all of her beauty and elegance. My heart went giddi-up. Her lips formed the word, “Well?” I froze. I could not speak. “Well?” she repeated. “Has the Lord given you the courage?”
So, I danced with Dorothy. We danced two dances, surprising ourselves that we could still fast dance without dropping in exhaustion. We turned to go back to the table. The lilting sounds of Elvis singing “Love Me Tender” sounded over the speaker. “One more time,” she said. We danced; we danced slowly, very slowly. She bit my ear lobe and whispered, “You should have asked me fifty-five years ago, you fool.”
I can’t wait for the next reunion.