The Class of '69!

Have you ever said, “I don’t feel that old?” and then looked into the nearest mirror and thought differently! Allow me to briefly do my life by the numbers: 73 years of age, 52 years of marriage, and now, 55 years since my high school graduation. By any modest evaluation, I am older than I feel!

Last Saturday evening’s class reunion was just another reminder that I am not alone! As I entered the Country Club’s great room, I looked up and could have declared, “Who are all of these old people?” But I quickly checked myself and acknowledged instead, “These are my classmates and peers! Let the stories begin!”๐Ÿ˜†

Just a few of us!

Regrettably, due to living out-of-state and some conflicts with our schedules, I have only been able to attend a half dozen or so of all the reunions. It’s a shame that some of our number bid farewell to Vandalia Community High School after graduation and have never returned for a single class reunion! Our planning team knows how difficult it has been to keep up with them!

There are things that you learn after attending a class reunion. Although most of us haven’t kept up with each other over the years, we still have many things in common. In conversation with my classmates the other night, I heard similar themes about our lives, families and how we are navigating retirement and the senior adult years.

Although our graduating classmates at eighteen years of age had the usual levels of optimism and diverse interests in those tender years of emerging adulthood, we have discovered that we have a lot more in common in our seasoned years. The class of ’69 has faced tragedy and losses. There have been dreams not fully realized, grief over the loss of family members, disappointment in broken marriages, estrangement from children and friends, and loss of health and vitality.

When asked why I attend such gatherings, I am hard-pressed to list all the reasons. I feel the need to return to my roots and try to connect with those who remember my beginnings. I do enjoy hearing stories and catching up with others. Maybe that is why I proudly wear a t-shirt around the house these days. It’s customized with lettering around the Illinois State Seal that audaciously declares, “Vandalia… It’s Where My Story Begins!”

Beginnings are full of hopefulness and excitement for the future. Who doesn’t like them? Yet, as the clock of aging moves and the years roll on, we all realize as the saying goes,  “what goes around comes around.” We are not immune to the challenges, doubts, and adversities that life brings our way.

Our story is not a static one. It is ever evolving through the various ups and downs of the changing seasons of adulthood. What we need is to be fortified by a new story impacted by faith in a God who moves with us through the seasons. We need to embrace the One who declares, “I will never leave you or forsake you!”

Eugene Peterson has freshened the intent of this hope-filled verse with his paraphrase, “Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them (adversities) a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6, The Message).

Put your faith in the God who is always “striding ahead of you.” And when you hear another’s story, listen with compassion, and follow through with prayer for them. They are on the same journey as you are, and their story is only different from your story by micro degrees! Give attention to and enjoy the life story you are writing!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.
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  1. Class reunions are great, couldn’t understand why a lot of those people wouldn’t come, the ones that lived right in the same town. Glad I could go to most of mine. Keep praying for you all.❤️


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