Reunion a reminder that life is fleeting

Turning points of life sometimes come with little notice of arrival.

Last week I went to the city of Auburn, southwest of Topeka, as a member of the Auburn Rural High School graduating class of 1964 for my 50th high school reunion.

I visited with people I have seen periodically over the years and people I hadn?t seen since I last walked out the high school door in 1964.

It was good, a renewing of old times and continuing relationships.

But I couldn?t help noticing from the program the number of alumni from a little school who have died. More than a dozen were deceased just among the classes who went to school when my class did. Included were the boys who died in Vietnam and a girl from my class who left many children behind.

One of the fellows two years younger than me had been recovering from open heart surgery, and had made attending the reunion one of his goals. He didn?t make it.

Ours was a very small high school?15 in my graduating class and somewhere close to 80 students in the school in any one year. So, usually, you somewhat knew everybody going to school there when you were a student. The reunions are annual for everybody who went to school there.

It seemed there were too many gone.

My wife, Belinda, and I stayed in Topeka that night, and the next morning I visited one of the better close friends I have had in life, Merle, at the rest home he lives in after having a stroke more than a year ago at his home in Rossville.

Merle is about four years older than I. His wife warned me Merle might not even raise his head in recognition of me. The stroke had paralyzed him, confined him to a wheelchair, leaving ability of movement only to his head, neck and one arm and hand.

We were each in charge of coverage for separate sets of counties for the Topeka Capital-Journal in the 1970s.

I devised a way for him to recognize me by walking up to him while he was eating, and saying, ?Merle, what are you doing here? It?s past deadline and Porter (former executive editor) and Sands (former state editor) are both looking for your stories.?

Merle responded by throwing his head back, and laughing. It seemed to me to be a poignant moment. He was grinning and responding the entire time I was there.

I hope I see him again in this life. The experience reminded me of how fragile we all are. Life is passing by for me, Merle, and all the ?kids? I went to school with.

What if I don?t see Merle again? The basic questions of life can haunt you.

For some of you, perhaps this will seem a far reach, but I am taking into account, when I think about life and death, of the unprecedented findings of the age in which we live.

In many ways, religion is an extension of scientific knowledge and science is an extension of what religion knows. This is to say that rather than being at odds, they can complement each other.

Using new telescopes and light-shift technology, scientists have estimated there may be as many as 4 billion planets in our galaxy capable of sustaining life.

A body of scientists predict we will find extraterrestrial life within 20 years as we increase our ability to detect more worlds of similar size to earth.

This opens new insights and questions as to what we are and what or who is God?right at a time when I am entering that senior citizen stage of life and facing the end.

It is the final mystery.

Please don?t contact me to tell me you have the answers about who God is and what we are about. Instead, take time for your own contemplation and leave me to my musings.

God has admonished us about who he is in consideration of the fact that we can?t know everything.

?Be still, and know that I am God?? (Psalm 46:10).

?I am that I am,? (Exodus 3:14).

Jesus said, ?Before Abraham was, I am,? (John 8:5).

If I want to know more than these, it?s my own eyes I must open to what is around me.