A 21-year-old man died Monday evening in a motorcycle accident. Ryan was the eldest of a family of three children who, with their parents, were active for several years in our local congregation. They moved to another congregation, but maintained ties with Trinity. Their daughter is in the same class as our son, but we have not seen the family much in the past couple years. It often takes a tragedy to bring people back together.
We watched this young man go through adolescence during the time they were active in our congregation and that makes it doubly hard to accept this tragedy. It just isn't supposed to happen this way. It was obvious at the visitation last night that they have the support of two communities of faith as well as a large number of the young man's friends from high school and college, and I hope this helps the family through this tragic death. They are going to be on a lot of people's prayer lists.
Over the past few months I joined Facebook, mainly at first to see what it was that was occupying my son's time. Within a week I had become "friends" with people whose paths had crossed with mine when I was a teacher at Sterling College. Even an old friend from the 1960s emerged. Facebook can be a useful tool in keeping up with people from the past and present. I am saddened that a few of my former students and friends have died in the past 30 years, but I am quite happy to hear from all the people who have sought me out, or who have answered my "friend requests".
Forty years ago a group of over 400 Juniors from J.E.B Stuart High School began the summer recess before their Senior year. Many of these I first became acquainted with at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School when I transferred in during my 6th grade year. We went mostly to Ellen Glasgow Intermediate School where I stayed until the US Army stationed my dad in Heidelberg, Germany. I spent the last couple months of 8th grade through about the same point in my 11th grade year. We then returned to Northern Virginia, and I resumed my friendships with the people I had known three years before. While Heidelberg American High School was an important factor in my life, I feel more of an affinity for my former community in Northern Virginia.
Anyway, the past few weeks have brought a flurry of emails involving a list of about 100 people who have been able to be located. Along with the re-emergence of familiar names, there has been a steadily growing list of those who have died from the Class of 1970. This list stands at about 20, and has been a bit of a shock to me, but remember that we are in our late 50s. Still, this number is about 20% of those accounted for (which is only about 25% of our graduation class).
Three reunions arising from different reasons -- and all three present an opportunity to experience and show God's love. Ryan's' death makes no human sense, but God was there to receive him and God is there to strengthen and comfort his family and friends. And we, in turn, can provide each other with comfort, support, and fellowship during this difficult time.