26 September 2014

Reunions and Rosh Hashanah: Appointments


I had never attended a reunion of my high school until the 40th which took place in 2009. Many people seemed to know each other; I'd been gone so long. Would anyone remember me? Of course, I'm a fairly social creature, evidenced in continual internet blogs and photo journal on Flickr and Facebook, twitter and such. But those are merely evidence of who I am in person as well. I rather enjoy being with people and meeting new folks and keeping up with former friends.


So it seemed natural to want to gather with the people from 40 years ago. I was not disappointed. And the great thing about being so many decades away from high school was that most of the memories from then were foggy at best. That means that people didn't remember what they wrote about me in my yearbook, or that they didn't even remember if we took a class together at all. Excellent! As a result of attending, I found some 'new' friendships or renewed ones, and have kept those going for the last five years.

Then when our 45th was announced a year or so ago, I was happy to go along, even though it's 9,000 miles away. Many said, "You win the prize for coming the furthest.' That's always a nice feature of living in Australia. But when I queried, "What is the prize?" no one seemed to have anything in mind. Maybe on the 50th, I'll ask for one to be made. Watch, that year, someone will come from further.

So what is it about reunions that either make people want to attend or to have no interest? What is it about remembering or reuning or ... that makes us withdraw or convene? This is a sociological question to be sure. And that's the point of this blog. I really would like some answers. And maybe you have been pondering that one as well.

Of course, personality types pop up immediately into the conversation. ESFP (The performer)or ESTP (The dynamo) ENFP (the champion) INFJ (the counselor) come to mind. And there are others, too.

One of my favorite personality descriptions is not from Myers-Briggs (as above), but by Gary Smalley and John Trent, both psychologists in the US. They wrote about this back in the early 1990s in their book The Blessing. Here's a quick overview Blessing   I can see each person at the reunions.The otter (backslapper) and the golden retriever (who sits with one or two people all night) carry on differently, but they carry on and attend. What is it that prevents some people from attending?

I spoke with two of my mates in KC, both of whom are very personable and affable. Neither has any interest in joining in. One said, "I've lived in KC the whole time since we left school, and I have no relationship with any of those people. Maybe if X came or Y came, I would go, but really no one there would know me." I told him that's a great advantage. They won't remember what they don't or didn't like about you, but he didn't hear that. The other man said he would try to attend, but didn't make it. It certainly was not on his priority list. Both of these men are single. Both have had relationships in the past, but are alone now.

 I'm hoping to get a big response from people on this one. 

What causes you to want to attend? What causes you to want to stay away? What do you think about those who do?

I'm writing this blog on Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Surprisingly, it's never called that in the Bible. In Torah, the 5th of 7 Jewish appointments with the Almighty is entitled, "Day of Blowing of shofars." In Hebrew Yom Teruah. By custom and convention it has taken on different meanings than what was defined in the book of Leviticus. The new year is actually supposed to be in Northern springtime, just before Passover. Most people call these Jewish 'festivals' or 'feasts.' And many of the holidays certainly fit that category. But Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) doesn't seem festive at all. The biblical term is 'mo'ed' and really means 'appointment.' It's a time of reunion with the Lord and with His people. It's an expectation from the mandate in Scripture for us to convene. Not that we are to convene with each other, but to gather to Him.

Most imagine that to mean 'attend synagogue' but it doesn't always imply that. The issue though for me is that whatever it is that draws some people to attend reunions probably also draws some people to synagogue (or church for that matter).

Someone should write a survey, and maybe I'll do that, but I'm hoping that many of my old classmates will weigh in on this and their answers will help us write a survey which might actually help us draw even more people to our 50th. We only have 5 years to plan that one. What do you think? Why did you go? Why would you never go? What is it about reunions which are compelling or offputting? Can you sort it out just now for us? Will you? Thanks!

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