On Giants' Shoulders

Monday, February 12, 2007

Do You Ever Feel Like Aidan?

This weekend we went to a going away open house for our friend Sarah and her husband and son. While we were there Sarah's brother-in-law Matt was telling a story about his 3 year old son Aidan. It seems that Matt and Aidan had been together at the mall and when they went out to the car it wouldn't start. Matt, being a serious Christian said, "we'll have to pray that God will help the car start." Immediately after he prayed the car started. So, taking that as a teachable moment, he said to Aidan, "See God does answer our prayers."

Aidan's response was, "Well he answers YOUR prayers." Matt wasn't quite sure, and apparently didn't probe to see what prayers of Aidan's hadn't been answered. I have to say, however, that there are a lot of times in my life when I identify with Aidan. There are these things I've been praying for for over ten years, or over six years or over two years and it feels like nothing is happening. They aren't the kind of selfish, "let me win Powerball" kind of prayers. They are prayers for specific people, for good things in their lives. Yet nothing seems to be happening, some of the time it even looks like the situation is just getting worse and worse. At the same time I watch some other people pray the Rosary a few times and bang there's the result they wanted. So it's really easy to feel like Aidan.

On the other hand what I can do instead is go to my the Abby link on my page and read the poetry and post that she's written where she discusses just this subject from another perspective entirely. What I actually did yesterday was to remind the Lord of the persistent widow that Jesus talked about. I'm still here banging on the judge's door, but the judge is actually my loving heavenly Father and unlike Aidan I'm old enough to know that He's still my loving heavenly Father even when the answer remains, "Not yet."

However, I'll admit that there are a lot of moments where I really do feel like Aidan, "Well he answers YOUR prayers."

They Made Me Do It

Well I dropped in to add a new post to my blog and was suddenly confronted with a screen that made it pretty clear I finally had to update to the new Blogger. I'd been resisting, I'd refused previous offers, but this time there was no way forward to a new post. So hopefully it will now be less complicated when I add comments to Karen's blog, or Kitchen Madonna's or the American Chesterton Society's. It had been getting tedious having to try several times before the commented actually got posted. If you now have problems adding comments here, well hopefully you don't, because I don't know how to fix that problem until the computer genius is around again.

Welcome to the new Blogger version of On Giant's Shoulders.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Pleasures of My Life

This week I was listening to a CD from the American Chesterton Society conference of last summer (which I didn't get to go to once again!). The speaker was saying that as a college professor one of the pleasures of his life was having friends who were younger than he was because the person who introduced him was one of his students and also one of his friends. I had to concur. I have had such fun this past week talking with people who are much younger than me. Of course there are my own children with whom I have interesting discussions, debates even. However, there is also Emily who used to be my student, and Jim my dd's boyfriend, and my "girls" as I call them. I spent Friday morning discussing anti-Catholic literature that was popular during the time when Charlotte Bronte was writing Jane Eyre, Friday afternoon discussing, educational choices with Emily, Friday evening discussing the history of the rapture theory with Jim and Gabe, Saturday discussing a variety of topics with Abby and Jim. In each of these discussions I felt like I was discussing with equals to one degree or another. They had valid points of view, sometimes they knew things about a topic that I didn't. It was interesting for example to read a passage about Schumacher to Jim to illustrate a point and to discover that he was already interested in Bretton Woods which Shumacher had a connection to through Keynes. He actually knew what the significance of Bretton Woods was, for me it had just been a side issue about a person I enjoy reading. For him it made the person I was discussing a more interesting person to look at. It was interesting to have Cathy ask about the relationship of Protestant pastors to their congregations and realize how colored our understanding is depending on whether we were brought up as Catholics or came to the faith later. The idea that the pastor was not married to his church was a new one for her in the same way that the idea of the priest acting in personna Christi was a new one for me a few years back.

None of this is like teaching in a larger setting was for me. There is a give and take in these discussions that gives me so much pleasure and such an opportunity to stretch my own thinking. I have the same experience when talking with my nieces. I don't ever seem to get as much opportunity to experience this with my nephews, but on occasion it has happened and it's been just as much fun. I have had this pleasure in the past from the other perspective. When I was in my twenties, this was the sort of relationship I had with my mother-in-law, the sort of relationship I had with some other older women, even the sort of relationship I had with the liberal pastor of our Protestant church. Somehow it's not the kind of relationship that my friends had with their mothers-in-law or the sort of relationship that many of my friends have with their twenty something kids or their friends. I'm not sure why. I only know that from either side of the generations it's been a real pleasure for me.

I don't have a lot of friends of my own generation to hang out with lately. Some of them have moved away, some have died, some have simply fallen out of my life for one reason or another. Unlike my mother-in-law I don't have a close sister to share things with. However, I do get to enjoy these young men and women and exchange ideas with them. That is a profound gift.