The Joy of Reunion
Recently I have had a couple occasions of reunion. They both brought some joy to my life and I truly appreciated the opportunities. In my mind, reunions are a good thing. They have positive connotations. I can’t imagine saying that we are going to a reunion and we hope to have a really bad time! So for me, a reunion is always a good deal.
I know there are family reunions. Some families do reunions on a regular basis. That would not be true of my family. Family reunions are rather rare in my tribe. I am not sure of all the reasons, but that is the way it is. There are class reunions in schools and colleges. There are other kinds of reunions in clubs and other organizations. Again, I am assuming these reunions also are meant to be fun and to bring some joy.
There are formal reunions, such as the family reunion that is planned months in advance. Everybody is invited to a specific place at a specific time. This kind of reunion has the advantage of being able to make plans. In this case, expectations can develop and hopes formulate for the people we will see and what will happen. Predictably these kinds of reunions bring joy because our expectations often shape our experiences. We expect that it will be good…and it turns out to be good.
Other kinds of reunions I would describe as informal. These are reunions that happen---often serendipitously---that we did not expect. We go some place and someone shows up whom we had not expected. This happens at restaurants and other places like that. These kinds of reunions bring joy because we had no reason to expect we would see someone. The simple experience of seeing someone like this usually elicits shrieks of joy. Often these shrieks are the first verbal expression, although clearly not using recognizable vocabulary.
As I begin to ponder these reunions---whether planned or serendipitous---I become fascinated by the process and meaning of reunion. Allow me to play out these emerging thoughts.
The first thing that occurs to me is the fact that we cannot have a reunion unless there was first a union. The “re” on the front of any word is nothing more than the Latin prefix meaning “again.” So a reunion is being united again. The first encounter or experience of someone cannot be called a reunion. So a reunion presupposes a prior union. But how should we understand the original union?
I understand union to mean two or more human beings are in relationship. It seems impossible to me to have a reunion, if there were no prior relationship. Typically, the relationship is a relatively developed relationship. For example, I have been to Russia and met a few people at a couple Russian universities. However, if I were to return there and meet some of these folks again, I don’t think I would call this a reunion. I don’t really have any existing relationship with them. Rather I think I would say something like I met them again. That would be nice, but it falls short of reunion.
As I understand a relatively developed relationship that makes up a reunion, I am saying this is a form of love. It could be the love of kinship or friendship. So for me the language of union (as a relatively developed relationship) is the language of love. A basic form of love is care. So at the foundational level, any union I have with another person is a basic form of care. There may be gradations of care. I might care deeply. I might even care sacrificially. But the union is a relationship of mutual care two or more people have for each other.
And when they have been separated, this union is intact, but it is not functional. The minute the reunion happens, the care and love kicks into action and joy is experienced. It is as if one’s heart jumps for joy! That’s why reunions are typically fun and festive. Where love and joy exist, there usually are not tears of sadness. There may be tears of joy and happiness.
Even if all this is an accurate description of the process and meaning of reunion, does that mean it is spiritual? I would contend it is spiritual. It is hard for me to say that any experience where there is reunion---where care, love and joy are experienced---is not simultaneously spiritual. Part of my understanding of spiritual comes with the idea of presence. When something or someone is spiritual, there is the presence of the Present One.
When the Present One is present, there is always care, love and joy. In effect, this means whenever we become aware of the presence of the Holy One, there is a form of reunion going on. Reunions are usually times of healing and wholeness. In times of reunion we are re-united. And the reunion is profoundly spiritual when we recognize presence of the Presence---the Spirit. O joy!