It’s happened again.

The first time was Summer of 06, at my 20th high school reunion. Most of the people I had hoped I might see, weren’t there. I did see Jenny, which alone made it worth showing up, but to my surprise there was also my old buddy Dan. Now, you have to understand that in high school, Dan and I did things like write notes to each other in secret codes based on the Greek alphabet. Geeky, fun stuff like that. We were in Drama Club together. Dan was kinda thin, had a shaggy blond mop of hair, was cute in a geeky-boy way. He made me laugh; he was friendly and safe.

Suddenly here he was at our reunion, tall, confident, in a well-tailored suit, and he’s telling me about being CEO of the company he recently founded, a company which is researching means of fertilizing the oceans with iron in order to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide, thereby reducing effects of global warming.

Whoaaaaa.

Then, of course, the inevitable question: “So, what are you doing now?”

Ummmm, I, teach knitting?!?

This week, Round Two. I hear from another old high school friend, an old gamer friend whom I remember playing Assassin in the hallways (sneaking a disc gun into school) and online role-playing games before there was even an online. We also passed notes and took awkward turns having ill-timed crushes on each other. We learned kung fu together, though he was always far above me in skill. Now he’s a security professional – and I don’t mean the skanky guy in uniform at the mall, either. He’s been head of security for a major luxury hotel chain, worked with the Secret Service, the FBI…Here’s an excerpt from the email he wrote me: 

I’ve met 4 (past, sitting and future) Presidents and uncounted other personalities. Some of them quite nice. Traveled to the caribbean and Europe (would have gotten to say Asia, if I’d just made it across the bridge in Istanbul)…So, what do you do, these days??

What do I do? I sing in the choirs at church. I knit, with friends. I work part-time chatting up people with cancer. I raise two girls.

I have met no Presidents. I have founded no companies. I am researching no means of counteracting global warming. I have kept no one’s life safe from terrorists. 

I have helped uncounted women breastfeed their babies. I have encouraged people and kept them company through dark times of their lives. I have caused people to meet each other and form community. I strive to be a positive influence on those I encounter; that is, to be a force for good and not for ill. To uplift and not to pull down.

In Orson Scott Card’s Red Prophet, the boy Alvin encounters Becca, an incarnation of one of the Fates.

Alvin tried to imagine Becca’s mother, and her grandmother, and the women before that, all in a line, he tried to imagine how many there’d be, all of them working their spinning wheels, winding out threads from the spindle, yarn all raw and white, which would just go somewhere, go on and disappear somewhere until it broke. Or maybe when it broke they held the whole thing, a whole human life, in their hands, and then tossed it upward until it was caught by a passing wind, and then dropped down and got snagged up in somebody’s loom. A life afloat on the wind, then caught and woven into the cloth of humanity; born at some arbitrary time, then struggling to find its way into the fabric, weaving into the strength of it.

And as he imagined this, he also imagined that he understood something about that fabric. About the way it grew stronger the more tightly woven in each thread became. The ones that skipped about over the top of the cloth, dipping into the weft only now and then, they added little to the strength, though much to the color, of the cloth. While some whose color hardly showed at all, they were deeply wound among the threads, holding all together. There was a goodness in those hidden binding threads. Forever from then on, Alvin would see some quiet man or woman, little noticed and hardly thought of by others, who nevertheless went a-weaving through the life of village, town, or city, binding up, holding on, and Alvin would silently salute such folk, and do them homage in his heart, because he knew how their lives kept the cloth strong, the weave tight.

So I re-think my life. It’s not a flashy life. It’s not an impressive resume life.

It is the life which God has granted me. It is a good life. I am grateful for it; I hope it is a life which strengthens the cloth of my community.

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