2004 Thanksgiving in Chicago
Phew! All three kids made it to college and stayed there until diplomas were in hand. Those years meant trips to Chicago and New Orleans and Oregon for us, studies and travel in Europe for the boys, camp counseling in North Carolina for two of our three, and a trip to Iona and France for us. Two days in Chartres a block from the Cathedral!
A major life transition for me, as I switched from law to teaching history and literature in a Modern Orthodox Jewish day school. Immersion into an entirely new-to-me culture. There are several Orthodox neighborhoods in the Cleveland area, including some close to ours, but I knew nothing of life there ~ the religious observances, the focus on Torah, the food and celebrations, the academic expectations, the family lives. Six years in and out of a different world on a daily basis.
Several worlds, in fact. This was also the period in which I made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. I've written about that year so often here that I won't elaborate further today, except to say this:
I was 52 that year. I can't put my finger on any explanation for my being so open to new experience and deep prayer in that particular year, but in retrospect the whole experience was a powerful confirmation of how profoundly one's approach to life can change, or be changed, at any time. As I sit here writing on my laptop in my comfortable living room in Ohio in 2013, I think of Ignatius in Spain in the early 1520s, beginning to formulate what would become his little guide to prayer for those who would accompany others as he was beginning to do. Had he not been slammed by that cannonball and had I not bumped into a wise elder of his Jesuit order nearly 500 years later, would I have become a spiritual director? become a pastor? survived Josh's death?
Here's what I think about life from the vantage point of sixty: