It's been an interesting year.
We embarked on an interstate move. I started a new program, and she started a new job. Everything went from being too familiar to too foreign. We went from being known by many to anonymity. And I suspect we have changed the trajectory of our lives in ways that we can't begin to understand today.
We haven't been very successful in finding a community here yet. I guess we haven't really tried. We've met new people on occasion, but don't feel like a part of anything. Truth be told, I don't think I've felt a part of anything in a very long time. Don't get me wrong, I have really great friends, but as we grew into adulthood, careers, and lifestyles placed distances (in some cases geographic in others ideological) between us. For the most part, the nearness, the shared experiences, the growing up together has faded. And the lengthy, sometimes, meandering conversations that seemed so instrumental at one time in our mutual growth and development have been replaced with queries about work promotions, parenting, and gasoline prices. We used to talk about dreams, hopes and even grave disappointments. This seems to be the natural course of things. The kind of change that no one seems particularly happy about, but that we all (or at least most) give way to. But it strikes me as something particularly regrettable at the moment.
It's been a really difficult year.
The program has been incredibly challenging. I thought about quitting, daily. I've felt like an impostor, often---like they made a mistake in accepting me and that I'm somehow not properly suited for the gig. I've also gone to a lot of dark places this year. I've struggled with my inner demons and have come out losing more often than not.
But I've learned a lot. Not only about philosophy, but about myself...
This year has also brought with it a great deal of turmoil at large. We've had a lot going on in the world and in our country. Professors, students, and at least one well known celebrity have been accused of rape. Some police officers and the justice system have (to put it mildly) found themselves in questionable situations. Other government officials have been tied to the heinous treatment of prisoners. Conflicts persist in the middle east. School shootings continue. Sadly, I'm only scratching the surface. Countless lives have been violated or lost. It's hard to know what to be thankful for when one considers such tragedies.
It's taken as a platitude that one should count one's blessings, particularly during the holidays. That one should sit and reflect on all the good that has occurred in one's life. I suppose that's alright so far as it goes, but I worry that in some cases, this may incline us to think too narrowly. When we think about all the good in our lives, we may miss out on all the suffering around us (of course, there is likely to be suffering in our lives too).
The message of the gospel seems to be that there is hope for the world in a savior. But a savior comes because the world is in need of one. Not just you and me. I've heard people thank God for their salvation, but on rarer occasion, that he died for the sins of the world. Biblical tradition has it that the good news went out (or would go out) to the four corners of the world. That the blessing promised to Israel would not stay with Israel alone, but that gentiles would be ingrafted. So this Xmas, I'm trying to be mindful of all the suffering, and injustice in the world from my comfy middle class vantage point as it were. Maybe at moments, I can muster enough selflessness to think about what I can do to change things. But I'm also trying to think about a promise that seems to have very wide scope which would really be something to be thankful for.
For in Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. -Colossians 1:19-20
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. -1 Corinthians 15:22
For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all. -Romans 11:32
Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. -Romans 5:18