Reunions bring meaning, hope to our lives

By Timothy LedbetterNovember 19, 2013 

Reunion is a great word. Built on the idea of oneness (union), reunion describes restoring oneness after apartness. Reunion speaks of gathering together from near and far.

I went to my college and fraternity reunions this summer, and plan to attend my family reunion this spring. Reunions are popular social events. Family reunions. School reunions. Military reunions. They have become big business for planners and organizers.

Some of the happier occasions that reunite us include birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, homecomings, holidays, vacation visits. We all delight in these special times, not just because of the event, but because of the gathering of loved ones.

We will take advantage of most any opportunity to reunite: former ball teams, marching bands, fellow workers, and even co-survivors of a crisis. Congregations of all kinds gather and reunite regularly for worship, education, outreach and fellowship.

Reunions recall and give meaning to our shared experiences with folks who matter to us.

We have been absent from each other for some time, and find ourselves saying frequently, "It's good to see you!" What a nice statement to hear! And, oh, the stories -- over and over the phrase is repeated with fondness and delight, "Remember the time ...?!" "Remember when we ...?!"

Even the somber reunions of life -- funerals, memorials, viewings, visitations, wakes -- are reunion opportunities. And prior to the death, the period of dying often creates a series of small reunions as family and friends come and go, offering love, support, peace, memories and thanks.

Some folks say they dislike this time or experience of life, but every special occasion reminds us of what matters most in our lives, and we gather to relive these important moments and events.

Reunions can offer an extended feast of laughter and tears, hugs and stories, support and meaning-making. What is it about good food, beverage and fellowship that are so conducive to conversation? I don't know why, but they are.

We come to dinner, sit around the campfire, go to lunch, have coffee or tea, grab a bite -- all to help us be together, to reunite even if but for a short time. And that's to say nothing of Thanksgiving dinner! No wonder that is the most-traveled weekend of the year.

For many people, the promise of reunion tomorrow gives hope for living today.

Latino and other cultures pause on The Day of the Dead to allow the veil between life and death to be very thin so as to reunite over favorite foods and memories. Beyond looking forward to the next reunion of whatever type, the promise of our reuniting with those who have gone before us into the next world often gives meaning to the closing of our days.

Many believe that joining that "great cloud of witnesses" creates continuity from this world to the next. And so may the reunions throughout your life and the Great Reunion to come be full of grace, love and peace for you and yours.

-- Rev. Timothy J. Ledbetter, DMin, BCC is an American Baptist endorsed professional chaplain and member of Shalom United Church of Christ in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email lluginbill@tricityherald.com.

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