Wise men still seek him–and find him.
(This is a short form for my mantra: You are a divinely created, infinitely loved, spiritually indwelt, evolutionary, free-will, son or daughter of God!)
Christmas—for so many of us, a holiday brimming with meaning and value. It is also a great time for family and friends to catch up on news. Can we do two things at once? Of course we can, especially since the son of Mary and Joseph introduced us into the universal family, and since then the meaning of human family relationships has never been the same.
For our family it has been a year of new adventures. Our totally bilingual, 29-year-old son Ben left the U.S. for Tokyo, where he took a new job in international sales with an IT start-up. We took in Ben’s cat when he left for Japan, a cat that has proven surprisingly affectionate, obedient, and delightful (most of the time). The latest from Ben: he’s meeting a lot of new people; some old friends are trying to get him to play lacrosse again next year; and he’s distinguishing himself at work. The meaning and value of this kind of information is almost totally limited to family and parents and close friends; but I’m so grateful to get some news in one of his rare communications that my desire to share this with you easily overcomes my tiny worry about descending into what to most of you must be trivia. Parental emotion on display.
My Japanese wife Hagiko has begun what could be the last two years of her translation work. She mellows more and more every year, while retaining all of her quick wit and readiness to serve when need arises, as it often does with her friends. A great joy for her this year comes from all the time she can spend with her very close friend who retired last spring.
Hagiko and I went to Israel with a group for two weeks. She’s a country girl from a tiny island in Japan, and she responded most to the countryside and the lake in Galilee; she also loved the ocean in Haifa—what a garden city!—and Tel Aviv, where we spent a couple days before and after time with the group. My goal for the trip was to develop a better relation with Jesus, and I began profoundly to focus on that goal as soon as I knew I was going, for months before the trip, as well as during and after the trip. Even before I stepped on the plane, it had all been worth it, and things only got better. Visiting such significant places, perception stimulates imagination and recollection, which stimulate reflection and communion. I have not ceased pursing that goal, and the relationship continues to become more intimate, meaningful, and joyous.
This past year I’ve plunged into social media, mostly with this blog, designed to “prepare the world” (smile) for my book, Values and Virtues. I’ve moved out of my office at Kent State University and brought a lot more stuff into our small and already full house; my goal is for my space to be as beautifully organized as one of Hagiko’s ikebana flower arrangements. I’ve taken online courses on internet book marketing, have interested a couple of editors in seeing a book proposal, and have begun working with a copyeditor to prepare the manuscript for submission. The book’s thesis is that truth, beauty, and goodness are qualities of God and values that we can live. The trick (which is not a trick) is to live those values so that they pervade the emotions and activities that attend the current phase of this decades-long project. The ship is coming into port.