I’m sitting on a bench in the garden, working on my vitamin D uptake, and struggling to read what I’m writing because of the brightness of the reflection on my screen. We’ve had a wonderful weekend, with old friends aplenty. Mum and Dad are still here, but other than that, the house has returned to its emptier, quieter mode (the mode that operates during the holidays, for as much time as the boys are being nice to each other!)
We’ve just hosted a little reunion for people from my old school in Pakistan. In many ways, I’d hoped for a bigger turnout, but, as it happens, we probably had the right sort of number to allow people to actually catch up with each other without missing out on the majority of guests.
It was wonderful to see everyone again, and I had an amazing day (and weekend!) enjoying the company of people whose friendship spans the decades. I was thrilled that people were able to make it. Some of them, I’d seen earlier this year, with others it had been longer. One, I hadn’t seen since we were last at school together, and he left about 27 years ago!
Yet we all had a common experience. There was a thread running through each of our lives that bound us to each other – we had all, as students, or staff, or parents, been connected to the same school. Even for those who met for the first time yesterday (having not overlapped at school), there was a shared heritage. We shared funny memories, and even funnier photos (I still haven’t decided whether or not to post some of them online…). The memories of the everyday and the memories of the extraordinary. Moments we cherish; stories we still tell; struggles that we witnessed and experienced; times of joy and laughter in our past that brought joy and laughter to our present.
And those things have left a mark. I don’t just mean a physical mark, but the scar on my hand reminds me every time I look at it of the time I broke the McKee’s door handle in an attempt to get in (sorry Liz!). But sometimes the other marks are deeper and more lasting. Not all scars, of course, but things which shape us and make us who we are. Probably sometimes without us even realising. I’m sure it’s true for everyone to at least some extent, but there’s something special about meeting up with people who you grew up with.
People who saw me run, fall, work (occasionally), act, laugh, cry, climb, walk, ride.
People who heard me talk, sing, play music, pray, question, argue.
People who challenged me, comforted me, put up with me, helped me, amused me, valued me.
That shared heritage and common thread is very special. I suspect I value it too highly at times, perhaps because of the particular circumstances of our departure (I don’t mean there was anything unusual, sinister or hard about it, merely that different circumstances must elicit different outcomes), and because of what I’m like. But a common thread is a reminder of our connectedness.
And that got me thinking (no mean feat, given how tired I am!). I suspect that it is always possible to find a common thread between me and another person. There is probably always a thread in the rich tapestry of my life that is shared by others. However different their life looks from mine, I suspect there is always something that could hold us together, if only I take time to look for it. And I wonder if perhaps the job of looking for that thread is sometimes more important than I realise. Because perhaps if I looked for the common thread, rather than focusing hard on the different pattern and the variation in weave; perhaps if I tried to find that thing which unites me to another person, rather than dwelling on the many differences that open up a chasm between us, maybe then, a bridge could be built across a gulf that might otherwise appear too wide. I may be left with a relationship hanging by just a thread, but sometimes that thread will be enough; sometimes that thread will be all that is needed for a friendship to flourish.