Before we met I knew one in thirty. I had heard of a few others, but I only knew one. My first meeting with the group did not suggest anything that was to follow.
It started on a holiday Monday. I walked into a room of strangers and introduced myself.
“Hi, I am Bill, Bill Ashlock.” It felt like I was in front of an AA meeting.
“Hi Bill,” in unison. Was this an AA meeting?
I look around at the group, pulled up a chair, and sat in the circle. I was trying to act as if walking into a building by a back door and into a room full of strangers was a natural thing to do. The ages varied. What they shared was a common experience along with me of attending high school in Singapore. The one person I knew was not here yet. I look into faces, many with names that I had seen in old yearbooks, and wondered why they had come half way around the world to revisit a place that no longer was as it was. As I listened to their plans, my mind filled with stereotype images, each nicely fitting someone in the circle.
Four days later, after eating, riding, walking, and most of talking, I had a very different picture. Nobody fit into a stereotype. Everyone was unique, their story and approach to life wonderfully different. The one thing that caught me by surprise was a love to singing. In any given moment someone would start singing. They were never going solo very long. A wonderful combination of committed voices soon joined in. Four part harmonies were natural
On the weekend, we headed north to the place where we used to vacation, Port Dickson (west coast of Malaysia). Forgotten memories returned, singing, walking on the golden sands, and times of reflection looking out across the water. This group knew the reality of an old prayer; “Celebrate God. Sing together – everyone! All you honest hearts, raise the roof!” (Psalm 32.11)
We left as familiar friends, enriched.