On Giants' 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.


At 10:03 PM, Blogger shenyuen said...

i still don't get why this is such a big deal out in the "world".... but which society/era was it that set this "you only talk to the people your age" precadent???

I can't imagine my life without the 35+ crowd. particularly family and several very close friends.

actually, I can. It would probably be: full of going through experiences that you all have already gone through and have fabulous insights, unstimulating, boring, bland, bleak, etc...

because, quite frankly, for the most part, """you guys""" know how to have a conversation. and always have really cool things to talk about.

I feel bad for all my friends who are really missing out on this part of life.

and i'd like to find the people who developed this cockamamie concept....

At 10:05 PM, Blogger shenyuen said...

all that to say, thanks for not being stuck up and reserved about talking to "the youth of america"

i.e: Me ;)


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