I missed the reunion this year.
It was our last one.
Twenty Februarys ago, a group of around 20 eager young ministers gathered at the invitation of a couple of older mentors to talk about preaching.
Because we chose to get honest with each other, we ended up creating an amazing support system that has endured for two decades.
I hate it that I missed the last gathering.
My life has changed so much since the first meeting of that special group of men. More on that later.
Over the years we found that we could count on each other no matter what. That sort of friendship, shared with such a large group, is really amazing.
Divorce, death, grave illness, marriage, loss of employment, changes in careers and positions, new denominations, restructuring of faith and worldview, stress, success, joy, endurance. . .I could go on and on.
Life is like this.
Life is better when you are part of a group.
We created community that first year.
We worked at maintaining it.
We weren't perfect.
We let each other down from time to time.
But we always knew that we were a part of something very unusual and sustaining.
When needed, we held each other accountable. Yet, we didn't judge one another.
Smaller, sub-groups within the larger whole became very close and lots of great things were accomplished as a result.
It is the way of community.
In the beginning I know our egos were a bit inflated. We operated under the silly illusion that being asked to be part of the group made us something special.
What we soon discovered was the fact that we were just ordinary guys with predictable issues, opportunities, struggles and needs.
We helped each other out.
As the years played out, we came to realize that our group, as currently organized, had served its purpose. Toward the end it became harder and harder for everyone to make the reunions.
I know that was true for me. My current work and life don't leave much room for extras or optional events. Over the past several years scheduling conflicts could not be managed or overcome. I missed a number of the gatherings.
But, I did not forget the group. And, I had lots of evidence that the guys did not forget me.
Last year--a year when another Dallas group member and I hosted the group meeting--thanks to some good leadership and honest communication, we decided to mark an ending to our formal group.
The last gathering took place on Thursday and Friday last week.
Communities are like this.
When missions are accomplished or when life changes over time, relationships and groups need to change as well.
Rather than be sad or nostalgic, I can't help but smile at my buddies and so many of our memories. Like the time a Harley Davidson, Hell's Angels group offered to intervene on behalf of one of our members with his church board!
What a group!
I will miss seeing my friends, but I know they will all be there for me and one another, should need arise, because of all that we discovered together.
Thanks, guys. . .er, Bucks! It was a great, great run!