Alum Asks, ‘Lordy, Lordy, How Can It Be 40?’

“The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin’.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.”
– Bob Dylan (1963)

One enchanted homecoming weekend, I photographed a group holding its 25-year college reunion, and I thought, “Man, these people look old.”

That was some 15 years ago.

Having just attended a 40-year gathering of the Eastern Mennonite University class of 1967, I scrutinize a photo taken of our assembly and ask, “This is us? How did we get to this place? Where did the last four decades go?”

Members of the EMU class of 1967
Members of the EMU class of 1967 are still cruisin’ after all these years. Photo by Ruel Burkholder

An extraordinary group, from diverse places and backgrounds, came together at what was then Eastern Mennonite College between 1963 and 1967 to learn, to grow, to discern their life’s calling – perhaps even find a spouse. Those years saw incredible change and upheaval both on campus and in the larger society.

Forty years later, for several hours, about 25 class members reassembled at their alma mater to observe what we’d become and to reflect on what may lie ahead.

This sounds biased: Anna (a class officer) and I planned and hosted the reunion, but we felt our several hours together were a hallowed moment in time. Perhaps it was due in part to the relaxed setting in Northlawn’s great lounge, perhaps the way people were welcomed and given special name tags with their senior yearbook photo (so we all could tell who we were) or the surprise visit from President Swartzendruber and wife Pat.

Maybe each was a factor, or perhaps we’d learned to lower our defenses, felt more confident and could share unapologetically about who we are today and what we’ve learned about ourselves over the years.

Prior to going around the circle with updates, Anna said, “Don’t talk about your physical pains or memory loss, your grandchildren or ailing parents. We’re all dealing with these realities. Tell about yourselves