As we get older, each passing year seems routine; much repetition and few surprises. And yet, when we sit back, this passing year has brought us new changes and challenges.
Global competition escalates, among “old enemies,” not only economically and politically, but also increasingly militarily. Disarmament now seems an old dream. Geo-political realignment is real. Migrants and refugees continue to seek havens, not only for better opportunities but for survival. In reaction, many a country has closed its doors, proclaiming raw nationalism and isolationism as the best policy. Barbed wires have replaced welcome signs; armed guards succeeded welcome with open arms. The earth, our fragile island home, is showing alarming signs. Extreme climate changes are devastating our natural order, with torrential rain falls, fires that consume mountains; arctic centuries old arctic ice is melting, the sea level is rising, not just in Venice.
In 2019, we have observed the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the enslaved Africans in North America. The gulf between the rich and the poor is growing ever deeper and wider among nations and within them, including the United States. 1 % versus the rest Is all too real. Globalism seems to have been replaced by tribalism. “God helps those who help themselves” sounds a cruel slogan.
What, if anything, are we doing to combat these challenges? How do we envision a better place, a better time? Where do we find inspirations? How do we raise children so that they may aspire toward a better future for themselves and beyond?
Hope is always born of despair; light of darkness. The world has endured hardships, wars; nations once defeated emerged as champions of peace. Children, our own or not, are a source of tangible hope. We support them by sharing their hope. A sixteen-year-old Swedish school girl has become the voice of conscience, while adults continue to allow the environment to be devasted by our own greed and neglect.
Advent and Christmas are the season to renew our deepest hope, we begin anew. During Advent, we begin anew, while preparing for the coming of the Prince of Peace, born of parents who were refugees to escape from King Herod who was going to kill all children born in Judea, the poorest of the Provinces of the Roman Empire. Hope can triumph over despair; light overt darkness; love over hate, life over death.
Our children are thriving. John is an engineer west of Boston. He continues to live at home to spend all his earning on his car hobbies. Jamie graduated from Wellesley in May as a major in art history. After working briefly at MIT’s Media Lab, she is now working at MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in Boston. Both love their work.
Nancy continues her study to become a trainer of new Montessori School teachers, who would work internationally. This year, she studied in Spain, England and Japan. She plans to go next to South Africa before concluding her training.
Jim continues his full-time teaching at Wellesley, while serving part-time as Rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Hudson, Massachusetts. He spent his sabbatical from the College in spring in Japan. He had planned to travel the country, especially to Nagasaki to continue his research on Takashi Paul Nagai, a radiologist and a hibakusha, a Roman Catholic convert and a pacifist. But he stayed in Tokyo to relish what it has become since he lived there as a boy. Tokyo is now a vibrant city, well managed, clean with many young people from all around the world, while preparing to host the Olympic Games next year. Crime rate in Tokyo is the lowest of all metropolises of the world. No guns on the street. Police officers carry them now after the Occupation Army told them to after the end of the World War II, but seldom used, except for practice.
As we usher in a new year, we bid farewell to the passing year with gratitude, rather than with remorse. The coming of the Prince of Peace at the year’s conclusion brings us the greatest hope for the reign of God who created us, forgives us and redeems us.
Love to you all, from Boston,
Jamie, John, Nancy and Jim