I thank God for all of the good things that happened to me and those I care most about this year. One good thing is that Sarah my sister and her husband Kevin who married on January 2,2009 will be celebrating their second wedding anniversary. It is a blessing to see love making its way trhough this difficult world. Another blessing is that 2010 began with the New Orleans Saints preparing to win the Super Bowl and they are back in the playoffs. Also this year I got to see some great drama, sports and other activities in which my younger (and sometimes older) relatives were involved in making great things happen. But it was the year we lost my uncle William Charles Summers as well as some other people less near and dear but part of my life.
In terms of me personally looking back I would probably say that overall it was a bad year. But I would probably say that about almost every year. That assessment has nothing to do with the few facts and events mentioned about the year in this note.
Compared to the end of 2008 this year the midterm elections did seem to offer some check to the hubris of President Barack Hussein Obama. I am commenting on The Norton View at the moment but not the Lords of the Blog. I am leaving this year on this blog with a note from the tranistional days of 2008-2009. It first appeared in my Facebook profile notes. Here it is:
Starting and Continuing Journeys: Reflections on a New Year
I just attended one of the more beautiful weddings and receptions which I have ever seen although it was a rural affair and not availed of some urban splendors. For the groom it was a first marriage of a musician, sailor, traveler and a young man with a bit of the swagger and reputation of a man who cut quite a figure as the free bachelor being joined to the joys and burdens of a lovely women with three beautiful children. My sister Sarah just got married to Kevin Joseph Granger. Her three beautiful children from her first marriage were included in a beautiful way in that event. Even the wedding itself which is a begining is also the end of a journey of engagement made possible by a journey of annulment to make her firts marriage a putative rather than bing Catholic marriage. That in utrn followed a heartbreaking journey of separation and divorce. That event was more in doubt than the calendar change was in most of our minds. The wedding was truly beautiful. Sarah and Kevin asked me to read and I was both honored and delighted to do so, it was a small but useful part of the whole ritual. Later we all had a reception in which music candlelight, christmas lights and fog combined for a really extraordinary ambience. Weddings are apropriately lavish affairs that allow people to engage in the right ways in the start of a journey through life together.
The video recording by my brother John Paul, the extensive preparation by my mother Genie and the relatively minor contribution by me which wore me out nearly because it was on top of and in the midst of Christmas was all part of a really wonderful whole that brought us closer together in a special way. There is in a wedding a networking with family and extended kindred in a way that is both stately and efficient. There is the test of handling a large project together. There is the right kind of redistribution of wealth in which those who can give only a small gift still get a good meal and a sense of bvelonging after paying what they can and those who have ample means can help a couple make a start while still getting something in return for their generosity. Without getting to the very important part about being joined in the eyes of God weddings already play many roles that make them very worthwhile if demanding launchsites for a life’s journey. Sarah and Kevin’s wedding launched a very exciting and impressive adventure that is of value to society as a whole.
I am writing the first draft at least of this sentence on January 6 the traditional date for celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany. This feast comemorates the visit to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph by the three Magi who had come from the East. These Magi brought gold, frankincense and myrrh to honor the newborn king who by then would almost certainly have been out of the manger but who was born there. Because Christmas is celbrated every year and because of that the Epiphany is kept near Christmas. The feast does not indicate anyone who scheduled it believing that the three kings of the East arrived only a dozen or so days after the Birth of Jesus. The Holy Family already had several reasons to want to re=establish their ties to their ancestral House of David and its ancient site so that they might have stayed there even as long as a year. The star if it appeared at his birth and waqs researche by the Magi may have become more meaningful as news arrived of various royal births and perhaps among the goodly number some rumors of an already growing Jesus story. Then they visited the royal palace of Herod in Jerusalem. His scribes agreed that the Messiah should be born in the City of David. They made their report to the King who met with his guests who then journeyed from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. Their coming would help provide means and incentive for the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt while they themselves returned home by a different route. For the wedding of Sarah and Kevin we had three visitors from the East which is West of Israel. Two Spanish priests and a seminarian came to us, the Priests concelebrated with the wedding mass and they have stayed and celebrated the Epiphany as well. One of them was baptized on the feast of the Epiphany many years ago. All are young and from a country which really celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany. It has been special to have them here at this time.
The journeys on my mind today are numerous. One way in which journeys enter into this season for me is through the journeys of Marco Polo. Because I have traveled a great deal and because for much of my life I wanted to go to China and then did go and now remember going to China — Marco Polo has interested me. In his of tale of his journeys he tells of meeting worshiping communities, monuments and sites of ancillary wonders that were related to the Magi who visited the Christ child and which still survived autonomously into his own day. Marco Polo’s book has never been very respectable. Each generation has found something about it incredible and dismissed most of it. Usually those points of contention have been shown to be reliably and fairly accurately reported from Marco Polo’s point of view. Journeying always can bring people face to face with one thing or another that is almost incomprehensible to those who stayed behind. Probably the real magi who really did visit the real Jesus left behind a legacy which he observed transformed by retelling and ritual into a lovely heritage of magic and belief. Anyone who reads me knows that my respect for the modern kind of cynical skeptic has benn almost destroyed entirely by a 1000 experiences of their ridculous ignorance and fanaticism.
These wise kings are also some how a reminder that a kingis both royal and a monarch but the tow qualities are separate. Not all monarchs are royal and not all royals are monarchs. This is part of what Christians should undestand because of the importance of Jeus’s identity as king. So it is perhaps a final Christmas reflection from me in these notes.
When one thingks of the message to the shepherds recalled on Christmas one thinks of Peace on Earth to Men of Goodwill. Christianity is largely an antimagical religion that celebrates the three Wizard Kings and their goodwill to their central figure. Though, Marco Polo found the remenants of the Magi’s tradition often at war with Islam it was not a coherent tradtion in the way Catholicism is. Quite possibly these Magi left some seeds to germinate in Arabia which when fused with Judaism and Christianity and the tradtions of his particular tribe helped to create both the historic Mohammed and the historic early Islam. Later more official sort of people might have de-emphasized their influence since they are not entirely reputable from and Islamic point of view. Possibly even the genes of some of these kings and their ilk have meandered around into the blood of such men as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia whether known to them or not. This journey of mystery and subterfuge might be both historical and historically significant in many ways that we will not ever know now. The long struggle of Christians and Moslems in the most important regions has probably erased any trails that could be profitably followed. I would mostly blame Islamic forces but think that Moslems might see things differently.
At the end of 2009 I reconnected with a woman I had known slightly as a girl and who has journeyed so much since that she is one of my very few peers in the area of travel. We chatted had coffee and I wrote her some verse and it seems our journey has ended there. But it was an inner journey for me nonetheless. For a very short time I journeyed back into the sense of happiness one has when it seems possible that life’s journey will be less bleak and horrible becuase one has the promise of sweet and good company. At the same time I was also in touch with the feminine inspiration I have not forgotten in China and yet find so very distant in time and space now. The woman I encountered again was in no way a 15 year old nearly mad Juliet nor am I in any way Romeo. Yet, whatever it was I was sad to see the light go out and leave me again in the dark in that particular way.She is on this List but she has never posted anything disclosing our flirtation on my page and so I will not expose her here. Life is full of the struggles of inner journeys as well.
I have also made a kind of journey to the end of my rope. This has been most specifially related to the Obama election in the larger context of our times. I may stay here till I die but I am pretty sure that I cannot keep living my life hoping for an American future for myself and my descendants. Fortunately, given the other factors, I have no descendants in this or any other country. But I have reached a point of not struggling to care. This has been an unsuitable place for me to live and now it is becoming an impossible one instead. I may simply whittle away my remaining years or I may move but I am beyond investing my deepest self here. That is a sad and unfortuante place to have arrived but it is where I am.
Through the latter part of 2008 and into 2009 I also had an unexpectedly prolonged dialog with Lord Philip Norton of Louth mostly on the “Lords of the Blog” section of the British Parliament website — www.parliament.uk –which has helped me make a sort of journey to dealing with some parts of both my Anglo and Acadian heritage. Mostly I have posted comments on his blogbut these are vetted and he has responded more than once. On one occasion I begged out of responding to a more technical question he posed for various reasons. So it has been a dialog facilitated by the instant journeying of the internet. A journey of some value.
Also in a year when NASA has been seen as a good target for budget cuts (and it may be) I have posted on the Planetary Society’s Facebook Group page a discussion post outlining how I would see Space exploration, travel and colonization in the human future. I believe that NASA has an important role to play in the journey of human civilzation becoming what it should become, more generally that we most journey to the moon and mars in the biggest and most responsible ways we can and as productively as we can while exploring space. We also have to journey into new ways of doing things that are more cost effective.
While I believe in inner spiritual and intellectual journeys and I believe in relational journeys these are fed and not mainly in competition against journeys through space and place. In an era in which any two places on Earth can communicate in less than a second and one can travel between almost any two points on the earth’s surface within a few days it is vital that humanity preserve its sense of adventure by traveling beyond the Earth. Just as the weding of my sister had guests she alone or she and Kevin had been with in Spain and other countries to make her journey across kneeler and cake to KEVIN more full so we can hope for outer space to really enrich our lives on Earth.
In this year may all of our journeys be more prosperous and happier than we expect. May they also bring us to good places.