Thoughts From My 40th and All ’70s Reunion

Class of 1972We hugged and kissed, and laughed and cried. We forgave each other speedily and unspoken, not even knowing the offense of which had taken place. It was a look into each other’s eyes that allowed this.

We became momentarily narcissistic as we learned of secret crushes from admirers, then passed that feeling to others like a baton on a relay team, as we revealed our palpitations towards them.

We saw twoscore of wrinkles and expressions on one another’s faces, drawn like a cartographer’s map. They represented the past, the present and yet, by looking long enough, and with enough hope present, could foretell the future…a future that is built upon the hope of a risen Lord.

We went back in time at a moment’s notice, then quickly whiplashed to the present as we communed of children and spouses. Yet we constantly struggled to remain in that past safe haven, our den of lions, which our class president reminded us was a ‘pride.’

We felt pain and sadness observing a montage of our comrades, 29 in all. They were fallen soldiers whose brave battles into the fray of life resulted in defeat. Yet we were frustrated and felt embarrassed that we could not maintain our tears, because this same group made us realize the utter joy we felt by not seeing ourselves on that list!

We saw the mortality of our present situations with failing eyesight, faded memories, names that had been forgotten and hair that needs replaced. Which led us to remember and search hard the stories and skills and athletic achievements of our past as if they were yesterday. This was the ‘balm’ that Gilead so sought after, and once we applied it to each other with gentle strokes, we felt young and invincible, albeit temporarily. For those few short moments we were kings and queens again of the prom. We were ferocious and huge Little Lions marching our State High down the field!

We gazed upon innumerable musty photographs; we were prompted always to pull the cellphone or the digital quickly from the holster of life and record yet another moment of posterity for our children and grandchildren to view far into the future and long after we have become one with Christ.

We not only felt weighed down with the burden of searching for a lost vanity that the years had taken away, but we had received the untimely and extremely heavy weight of carrying a fallen community, university and populace called Nittany Nation. Within every conversation seemed a hidden reference to the mythical Phoenix. We wondered silently where the ashes were that this bird would rise out of, once again proclaiming to a cynical and hate-filled world that WE ARE…PENN STATE! As Little Lions of a larger Nittany one, only we as locals know that PENN STATE…WE ARE!

We knew immediately when we registered the $42 cost was a bargain like no other we have experienced. Not only would it give us a meal and fellowship and an excuse to stretch the truth, but it would give us a faith and a hope that the world and news reporters and sports analysts only dream of outside of our Lion’s Den. It would allow us to hold hands and put arms upon hurting people’s shoulders and pray for them where they stood; to curse cancer and alcoholism and divorce and child abuse. It would allow us to pull handkerchiefs out of lapels and wipe tears, both of sadness and joy. It lasted all weekend, yet was over in a minute!

Love In Him,

Rev. Richard I. Kepler
Class of 1972

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