Princeton Reunions

My wife Julie and I spent the weekend in New Jersey celebrating her 25th reunion from Princeton University. My 25th reunion from the same school will be next year, and I’m trying to decide if we’ll go back for that one.

Reunions at Princeton almost defy description. Each May, over 20,000 alumni and their families gather for three days of reconnecting, remembering, and, well, partying. You can see a bit of what the festivities are like here.

Here are some things I noticed on this trip:

  • There is a reason they call New Jersey the Garden State. The tree canopy over Princeton in late May is stunning.
  • There is a bit more beer at Princeton reunions than at reunions for my other alma mater — Asbury Theological Seminary. OK, a lot more.
  • Some of our contemporaries from Princeton are now virtually retired. In their mid 40s. They did well on Wall Street and are now on to other things. Incredible.
  • On the flip side, there are a lot of people from Julie’s graduating class who are now clergy. They probably won’t be retiring anytime soon.
  • I played doubles with Glenn Michibata, the current tennis coach. I actually did pretty well — it was on a hard court. I learned afterwards that Glenn had been ranked #1 in the world in doubles for a time in the 1980s. I’m glad I didn’t know that going in.

Believe it or not, I often wonder if I’m glad that I went to college there. It sounds sort of ungrateful, doesn’t it? What a gift my parents gave me and what an experience I had.

But on the other hand I never was completely at home in New Jersey. And today when people learn that I went there they make assumptions about my attitude or background that aren’t necessarily true. Plus, that degree comes with an expectation of future accomplishment — and it’s not like I needed any more incentive to get worked up wondering whether I’ve done enough or not.

Yet in the end, I see God’s hand even in my mixed emotions and mixed experiences. Without taking myself too seriously, I do think He wanted me to go there. It’s where I met Julie, it’s where I first sensed a call into some kind of ministry, it’s even where I heard about Asbury. Maybe I should fret less and appreciate more.

I think I’ll be going back for my 25th next year.