The air was wet as the five of us emerged from a meeting at the church office. It was cold and dark, a typical winter night in the Pacific Northwest.
But the car heater took away the chill, and my anticipation at joining a “band of brothers” warmed me on the way home. That’s what the pastor dubbed this circle of men about to engage in important work on behalf of God, our congregation, and surrounding communities.
Please don’t run off, ladies! I hope my wanderings in this post will interest you too.
The phrase was not lost on me. A few weeks back, Karen and I re-watched the mini-series, Band of Brothers, the inspiring true story about the soldiers from Easy Company, a unit of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. From boot camp to D-Day to the capture of Berlin, these men fought and died side by side during World War II. In doing so, they forged deep bonds that lasted over their lifetimes.
Produced by Hanks and Spielberg, the series shines. War stories are not Karen’s favorite, but she thought this drama was awesome because it projected themes of friendship, loyalty, camaraderie, and great courage.
They were the “The Greatest Generation,” as writer and journalist Tom Brokaw called them—the brave men who answered the call from the front, and the strong women who stepped up to head their families while meeting the labor needs of a nation at war.
“Band of Brothers,” streaming on Netflix. Watch it.
In my 72 years, I’ve been blessed to be part of a few bands of men who’ve helped to shape my character along the way. My experiences transformed me into a better partner to Karen, a more attentive father, a loyal friend, and an active member of my community. None have required the sacrifice that the men of Easy Company made for each other and their country. But like them, I would give my life if called on for a handful of special people.
My first band was literally that—a rock and roll band that started in junior high school and played together all through high school. Five guys who loved music became inseparable during our formative years. Then there was football, a chance to join a larger squad of young men dedicated to hard work, teamwork, and visions of winning with integrity.
These were character-shaping connections. A dozen or so of these early bonds have endured, making our lives richer as we navigate our later years. I fear today’s kids are being robbed of such opportunities as they sink further into the isolation of social media and the cultural chaos surrounding them.
Almost forty years ago, Karen and I attended a weekend function at our church in Los Angeles. The guest speaker talked about the importance of men belonging to an accountability group—a small band of brothers, if you will, that meets once a week.
During a short break, Providence—fate—or whatever intervened. Four of us men, acquaintances before, now inspired, found ourselves in a tight circle, pledging to form such a group. A fifth agreed to join a few weeks later, launching what grew into an extended family that raised several young children to adulthood and remains devoted to each other.
Three of us now live in Washington State and have added two locals to the mix. The Southern California contingent also filled the empty chairs to round out their group. Two bands that are bound together in spiritual friendship. Along the way, the wives became a band of sisters, and the miles between L.A. and Poulsbo have failed to pull them apart. In fact, they’re having their zoom call as I’m writing this post.
And tonight, Karen and I will host a community group of a dozen or more church friends that meets twice a month at our house. Brothers and sisters doing life together.
Do I have room in my life for another new band of brothers? Absolutely! (Admittedly, it helps to be retired empty nesters.) For I know the richness we will collectively gain as a fellowship. A sense of belonging. Shared experiences that will create lasting ties. Accountability, responsibility, and mutual growth. Friendship, trust, and so much more.
We will be “blessed to be a blessing,” as our pastor likes to say.
I hope a new opportunity to join a band of brothers or sisters presents itself to you in 2024. To become part of something bigger than yourself—a new frontier that at its core is positive and life giving.