“You have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” (Psalm 61:4 NIV)
Heritage and history are important to all of us. They impact how we were raised as children and how we carry what we experienced into our adult lives. If we marry and have a family it affects how we raise our own children, often repeating what we experienced with our parents or adjusting accordingly.
I am reminded of my 60th high school class reunion in Mason City, Iowa, which I attended a few years ago. Mason City is a town of about 30,000 in northern Iowa, known mostly for Meredith Wilson’s birthplace and being the model for River City in his musical, Music Man.
Out of a class of 340, one hundred ten of us showed up from California to Virginia and Texas to Idaho. We came to catch up with old friends, become reacquainted with others we didn’t know so well and relive memories from long ago.
What was noteworthy was that everyone had a genuine interest in one another. There were no agendas. There was no competition in sharing about family or what was going on in people’s lives. People shared more about family than careers or past accomplishments. There was no discussion involving politics, the public arena or world affairs.
We reminisced about a more innocent time when as children we could walk several blocks to our elementary schools without our parents and concerns for safety. We could ride our bikes to any part of town at any time of day or night without worry of being mugged or molested.
We still said the pledge of allegiance in our schools “as one nation under God,” and we sang Christmas carols at school Christmas concerts. God was not banned from the public square and the Christmas crèche still appeared in the town’s Central Park.
We said grace at the reunion’s dinner, and remembered the 95 members of our class who had passed in a beautiful slide show. We parted with lots of hugs and well wishes, realizing that for those of us who came from quite a distance, it might be the last time we would see one another.
In reflecting on the weekend, what struck me was that everyone present had worked hard all their lives at whatever their occupation was, raised and loved their families to the third, and even the fourth generation in some cases. Whatever their religious faith or background, they evidenced a belief in God. They experienced the challenges and blessings of life, but were still motivated to do the right thing.
How can we bring our heritage to bear on our current lives?