Monday over Coffee: Reunion

Need a Word of Encouragement?


My great-grandparents, Lorenza Dow and Susan Elizabeth Funderburk, had sixteen children. Sixteen! Their family was big even before each of the siblings grew up, got married, and started having children of their own. My own granddad was the second youngest of these sixteen. His older brothers and sisters all had such elaborate first and middle names—Oliver Cromwell, William Orin, Van Rensellear, and Ada Lee Funderburk to name a few—but by the time they got to him, number fifteen, they'd evidently run out of creativity. His birth certificate reads simply: “Guy Funderburk.” No middle name. Just Guy.

This big family made for big family reunions. As I grew up they were held annually, usually in East Texas—Elkhart, Jacksonville, or thereabouts, either at a church encampment, or later at the National Guard Armory in Palestine, Texas. We’d play basketball, volleyball, and dominos for awhile, then the Friday night agenda would include a talent show, a potluck dinner, and a session of “I Remember When…” during which the same funny or poignant stories were told over and over again until they were effectively passed on to the younger ones like me. We’d reconvene on Saturday morning, and though the musical gene has always been spread very thinly in our family, there’d be robust hymn singing before a ‘collection’ was taken up for expenses, and a sermon offered (our family has never lacked for a preacher). 

Before we dispersed, a business meeting would be held, conducted in strict accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order with detailed minutes taken. In addition to a treasurer’s report, there would be an accounting of who’d passed, who’d gotten married, and who’d been born since our previous gathering. Then finally, at the end (under New Business), we would all have to decide where the reunion would be held the next year. This took some time as many opinions were expressed and thoroughly vetted. Given that we didn’t see much of each other, I always found it amusing how much of our time together was taken up discussing where we were going to meet next time. In retrospect, that’s what kept the reunion going. We simply made up our minds to get back together.

I’m writing this now from some 30,000 feet in the air between Washington D.C. and Houston. My wife, Kelly, my son, Charlie, and I are on our way back home from the nation’s capital where we looked at a trio of colleges as Charlie moves toward the end of his junior year in high school and begins to give some thought to what is next for him. In addition to scoping out the universities, the trip had another purpose. My sister Laura and niece Emma live in the D.C. area, as does my oldest friend, Mac, and his family. It’s been well over a year since we’ve seen any of them, and while we’ve kept in touch with texts and emails and an occasional phone call, to get to see close family and close friends face-to-face has been a long time coming. 

As our state’s vaccine rollout now gains more and more momentum, there are many reunions that have begun or will soon begin to happen naturally—grandparents hugging their grandkids again, old friends sharing meals together, and work colleagues and students gathering together in more the usual way--but there are some other reunions that might take some additional intention and forethought. 

There’s a powerful verse in the book of Daniel in which the story’s main character decides with great resolve to follow God into his future. The King James translation of this verse (1:8) says that Daniel “purposed in his heart” to do this. I've always liked that phrase because it seems so soulfully definitive. As we approach the edge of a new season, if there’s an institution, a small community, a group of friends, or some extended family you’ve had to be away from, but which have always helped to form your character in a good and decisive way, then perhaps now is a good time to purpose in your heart and plan a reunion. 

Help me to consider the institutions, the communities, the friendships, and extended family members that have influenced my life for good. I purpose in my heart today to embed myself within them again. There will be reunion. Amen.

Greg Funderburk

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