Friends From My Youth…

Recently, I have had a strong desire to connect with friends from my earlier years. Especially people from my grammar school days at Sutherland and my high school days at Morgan Park – both on the south side of Chicago. It all kind of started earlier this summer when I received a friend request on Facebook from my closest 7th grade friend, Philip. He transferred into our grammar school and we quickly became fast friends. I lost track of him sometime during high school and didn’t ever know what became of him. Recently, I found out that he lives in New York and is involved in the theatre. I follow his posts and have really enjoyed getting re-acquainted with him from a distance. We haven’t spoken yet, but I certainly have relived a ton of memories from the past. In fact, my brother, Doug, was in Phil’s sister’s class and asked about her when I saw Doug this past week-end. I’ll have to find out!

And then this week-end, I sent a friend request to Sue, one of Janet’s closest childhood friends and somebody I went to grammar school with for years. Sue was always very involved and knew everybody. I wasn’t nearly that popular. In fact, I was kind of nerdy back then – who knows, some people may even say that about me now… But Sue was a great person and I knew her family well through her friendship with Janet. In fact, Sue was one of Janet’s bridesmaid’s in our wedding more than 41 years ago. She lives out in Colorado and Janet has maintained contact with her throughout the years on birthdays and other special occasions. But both Janet and I have probably been a little remiss in maintaining past friendships. Like most couples, we have been caught up with raising our own children and grandchildren – and we derive so much joy from one another that we tend to stay out of the limelight and stick pretty much to ourselves.

Maybe it’s the age thing catching up with me. But I feel a strong need to re-connect. My closest lifelong friend, Bob, who also was in our wedding, died of a stroke almost twelve years ago now and I remember doing the eulogy at his funeral service. There were many people there from our childhood years in Beverly, our childhood neighborhood, and even through the tragedy of that, I didn’t maintain contact with many of the friends I knew way back when…

Sunday, I happened to run across another name from my past – a grammar school friend, Hal. He lived off 99th Street and I remember him well. I visited his Facebook page and what a pleasure it was to see pictures of his family. In fact, every time I head to Morris, IL to visit my brothers, I pass right through the city where Hal lives. Talk about a small world! Who would have thought? It’s been very special to think about all those childhood memories and who knows, perhaps I can re-connect with these dear friends from my youth. And there are others – I am researching them right now. The truth be told, I am a little hesitant to reach out to some of the old gang. I just don’t know how folks would react to these long ago friendships. What is it they say – you just can’t go back?

The verse for this evening is from one of John’s epistles – his third letter. We are told, by John himself, in 3 John 2, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” This is the greeting that John used to touch base with his old friends. It seems appropriate, in light of the friendships that I have had, past and present, that I use the same greeting as I hope to re-kindle parts of my life from 50 years ago.

My encouragement this evening is that our friendships from our childhood are important. They are part of the fabric that has helped shape who we are. My prayer is that you will continue to support those people who have crossed paths with you at one time or another. Because, it is possible that some day you will wake up and realize that those relationships are fragile – like my friendship with Bob – it was over way too soon… So, old friends, be well and reach out from time to time. Because life is way too short – Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…

 
 
 
 

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