Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reflecting on the Past

We anticipated the gathering for nearly a year; it was late January when we first started plotting a reunion on the Lee University InCirlce page. As quickly as that year flew by it is easy to see how we allowed ten years to slip past us. Many of us have maintained friendships within our group - best friend-ships - but other connections were lost, and for no real reason except "life". Seeing each one of you again, though, showed me that despite time and distance, we are connected through a Milestone experience, and always will be.

When I ever have to take stock of "who is Michaela?" there are a few defining moments that have helped me answer that question. Some moments are good and others are not, as I'm sure we all have examples of. But who I am, how I present myself for a first-impression, the way I combat difficulty, and the method I use for making decisions are all influenced by events in my life which have been Milestones of learning and growth. Such things are encounters with God, divorce, death, birth... and Cambridge. I believe we all could put Cambridge on our "list".

Remember the status of the Cambridge People? I remember having this pedestal on which I placed all the people walking around with Cambridge patches on their bags. These upper-classmen regaled us with stories of an entire semester spent playing by different rules: rules made just for them. Having the opportunity to go was the only club I wanted to join at Lee! Sure enough, I did enjoy that status when we returned. I loved answering questions and showing off my tattoo...

But the real effects and benefits came slowly. Every day I looked around the life I was living through a new lens, and I had to adjust my focus. The limited scope of "my future" was suddenly broadened. I wanted more for myself, something deeper and more substantial. I wanted to discover how I could truly contribute, because I felt a part of something as big as the Planet, for the first time.

When I was in Cambridge I didn't do everything that I wished I had done. There are things I regret, and that apologize to myself for doing, or not doing. It was not the perfect trip. But I learned so much from my own awkwardness, more than I have from the things I did right. The greatest benefit of learning those lessons in Cambridge, though, were the 25 of you who were there with me. We learned together! We learned through interaction with each other. Whether it was learning how to race down a busy left-lane-driving highway on a bicycle (intimidating!), or how to react when in tight quarters with 19 other women... month after month! We missed our families and homes, we missed our boyfriends and girlfriends, we hurt each others' feelings, we spent too much money (on some things we no longer have), we took pictures of things we don't remember, and we said things we wish we could forget.

But I'll never regret each one of you. For the last ten years I have told the tales of Cambridge and have carried the wisdom gained into all areas of life. Through the telling, the story has almost become just "mine", and I forget that the person I am is because of each one of YOU! Spending that afternoon together on November 8 reminded me of that. Every one of you had a hand in participating in who I've become. Thank you so much for that! It was my honor to plan the reunion because you all are instruments of my Cambridge Milestone.

The 20-year reunion will be on Jesus Green; so bring your Peppercorns and meet us there!

Regarding the slide-show, I'd be happy to mail anyone a copy! send me your address if you'd like one (and I'll be sure to correct all the typos before it goes out!).

Thursday, November 13, 2008