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Monday, November 23 2015 10:09

 

Every five years, my college class asks each of us to report on what we have been thinking and doing. 

As I began to plan what I would write, I realized this was also an appropriate Thanksgiving activity, inspiring me with gratitude for the blessings of my life.

There have been sorrows as well. The death of my brother John stands out as the most notable.  He was the first of my siblings to go, and I continue to miss him.

For me, marriage continues to be a great benefit. My wife Susan succeeds in recognizing my good points and putting up with my shortcomings.

With some exaggeration, I suspect, she assures me I have always done the same for her.

It helps, of course, that we have so much in common.  Among them stand out faith, friendships, love of books, favorite places (France, Jamaica), and politics. 

 

 

II.

Chief among the benefits of our marriage is our daughter. She continues to delight us in countless ways, while being very much her own person.

Happily for her book-loving parents, she has ended up as a New York editor.

Like her parents, she places a high value on friendship and family ties.  With time, I become more and more thankful for our large extended family. And ditto for the many ways in which we continue to support and enjoy one another.

On the other hand, the current political climate is causing us a fair amount of grief.  We deeply regret the current level of debate, and the way a small number of donors can dominate election campaigns.

Life provides many compensations, though.  Religious practice looms large among my activities, and brings me deep satisfaction.

To me it’s pleasurable to keep contact with the Jesuits and  other clergy with whom I was once more closely connected

Some people regard it as a bit odd for me to continue being religiously active. I have to explain to them that I did not leave the church but only the priesthood.

III.

I think that age makes us more acutely aware of the suffering and needs of other people. Sometimes we can be of service, and that in itself is a great blessing.

At other times, of course, we are the ones being helped. You don’t reach your ninth decade without being buoyed up with countless acts of kindness.

I now understand why older people complain about aches and pains. My arthritic right knee continues to make walking difficult, and limits my life in unexpected ways.

For years, though, I have been accustomed to daily swims.  This form of exercise has provided me with longtime freedom from colds and other ailments.

I have developed a weird swimming style because I can use only my right arm not my left. But this handicap does not spoil my enjoyment of the water.

At a time when many of our friends are moving to assisted living, we still live in the house we bought almost forty years ago. We rejoice in the presence of wonderful neighbors, old and young.

 

IV.

It helps that both of us remain active and able to carry out tasks at home. We find it a pleasure to use our computers and other high tech toys, although my skills with such tools leave much to be desired.

I continue to be educated and entertained by college students and their professors. I often share lunches with undergraduates, and exchange views with them on many subjects.  

 I am often amazed by what I learn from these students from all around the world.

I am fortunate to be still learning. It is one of the many blessings for which I am grateful this Thanksgiving.