Thirty-five years after we graduated high school, my classmates and I have learned a thing or two about success.
We are professors now, business owners and executives, architects, attorneys, doctors, engineers, teachers, photographers, farmers, writers and more. We are also grandparents, parents, husband, wives, friends, and co-workers. The luckiest among us are still active sons and daughters.
And, here’s what we know:
We know that life’s true riches lie in friendship, in family, in good health, and in the opportunity to enjoy them all. We understand the fleeting nature of time, and we appreciate every opportunity to raise our glasses in celebration.
We arrived at this understanding by wading through pools of profound grief. Our class lost two of its excellent Dans, and O.J. Bob, Jesse, Tina, Mike and JoAnne.
These losses and others have instilled in us a deep appreciation for moments — a perfect sunset on a familiar river, a sweetly crafted prayer, coaxed memories, a consensus salute to the best teachers we knew, genuine laughter, reciprocal admiration, unabashed love.
As the sun set on our reunion, our classmate John took us on small excursions up the Fox River and these metaphorical, golden hour cruises served us well.
It’s carpe diem time for the class of ’82.
Our classmate Kip, a retired Marine still married to his high school sweetheart Gina, read the following prayer he adapted from rumanari.com Saturday night:
Welcoming God, whose abiding love sustains our world, with glad hearts we gather here in celebration of our shared histories.
In deep gratitude that stretches back through the years, we remember the strong friendships forged in our youth. We give thanks for the devoted lives of teachers, coaches, mentors and family whose generosity nurtured us as we grew. Tonight even as we rekindle old friendships, we are tenderly mindful of our twelve friends and classmates who are no longer with us on earth. We give thanks for their lives, and we pray for peace and comfort to those who grieve their loss.
May our time together be joy-filled as we share memories of days gone by and news of where life’s journey has taken us. Give us grace to recognize our mistakes from the past, so that we might have forgiving hearts. May our personal reunions be shaped by kindness and laughter, and may the stories told and retold tonight bring delight and good will.
We give thanks for the food we share tonight, for the hands who harvested, transported, prepared and now serve it. And as we enjoy this meal, may our festivities be a toast—in honor of and thanksgiving for those who had a part in our lives at Xavier High School over thirty-five years ago.
Bless this reunion time. May these moments together lead us to treasure ever more fully each beat of our hearts and every new day life brings us.
With the hope of God’s peace in our world we pray, Amen.