Sometimes you are struck by just how small the world can be.
I’ve had this photo sitting on my desk for about three months now. I found it when I was going through a box of old paperwork.
None of the people in the photo looked familiar. Except me of course. I’m the one with the beard.
I didn’t know where or when it was taken, though judging by my haircut it was the early 1980s. Perhaps it was taken when I lived in western Canada, before getting married? That would explain why my wife is nowhere to be seen.
This past Sunday I met two of the people in the picture.
My wife and I had been invited to speak at a church about the work we have been doing in Germany the past four years. Before the service, the person who was introducing us to the congregation asked if I was the Lorne Anderson who used to attend First Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Now while Lorne Anderson is not a common name, there are a few of us around. My doctor has three of us in his practice, so I always have to give my birth date when making an appointment. However, I did indeed once live in Saskatoon and for a few months attended First Baptist Church.
When he asked the question, this picture flashed into my brain. Suddenly I knew. It was the young adults group at that church.
So instead of publishing this photo with the caption “Who are they?” I now know a little more. The couple with the baby, who were the ones I met again this week, moved to Ottawa in the Spring of 1984, around the same time I returned here. Which means the picture is from late February or early March of that year.
They were able to tell me that the couple who are seated next to them now live in Winnipeg and own a software company. The man standing behind the woman in the wheelchair also moved to Ottawa, then Paris and is now retired in Vancouver. Another person in the photo also moved to Ottawa, and is now in Ajax, Ontario.
I only lived in Saskatoon for seven months. I made some good friends, but those were pre-internet days. We eventually lost touch. And now, almost 40 years later, those memories are flooding back.
It is a big planet. There are eight billion of us. We can’t know everyone. And it is easy to lose contact with old friends. My childhood friends and old classmates are not part of my daily life anymore.
I may have contact with one or two through Facebook – but I’d have to look to be sure, I really don’t spend time on social media.
Memories are important, even if the people are no longer part of your life. Each of us makes an impact on the people we come into contact with, hopefully a good one. Probably without even realizing it.
I didn’t remember the names of the people in the picture when I unearthed it this summer. I still can’t name most of them. But I remember them as a group.
They were warm and welcoming. I was never an outsider, not even the first time I visited the church. I was alone in an unfamiliar city and they took me in and made me feel at home, part of their family.
Such a special group of people.