One More Thing

That which I couldn’t say earlier in the day is that tonight our family held its first-ever surprise party, to celebrate Pippa’s birthday (five days early, as Margaret has to leave tomorrow morning). A large passel of Pippa’s friends from seminary life gathered to surprise her, share our enchiladas (she didn’t guess, even from the superhuman quantity of enchiladas she and Margaret baked this afternoon), and play Bible Pictionary. A splendid time was had by all.

I couldn’t feel more pride and exhilaration at Pippa’s closeness to so many wonderful adult friends. She’s a gift.

Did I say that Margaret leaves tomorrow? The party gave us something to focus on other than the number of hours till she heads back to Durham; now that’s oppressively present to my awareness. She’s upstairs, quietly packing, now; I’m downstairs, pretending I don’t know what she’s up to.

Thank heavens she’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

For what am I thankful? So many answers; I hope no reader will be miffed if I state, first and most emphatically, that I thank God daily for the marvelous family that surrounds me. The odds disfavor anyone winding up with this provocatively splendid bunch, and I’m first in line to emphasize that I wasn’t a propitious candidate for “father of a marvelous nuclear family.” We’ve pulled together through a number of challenges despite my many weaknesses — we’ve shared our family life with a number of dear friends; we keep growing, closer and stronger. Through their affection and support, I can also give thanks for everyone around who offers generous encouragement and necessary criticism. I give thanks for the plenty that makes it possible for me to worry about finances in a general way, rather than the specific “getting by day to day” way, or the “can’t even worry about finances” way of miserable scarcity. I have a job that brings me into the lives of people, some of whom give up practically all their old lives, who turn to me for instruction, for guidance in perplexity, for spiritual support. And I have an avocation that entangles my prose and promises and prayers with the lived questions and affirmations of friends around the world. I thank God, and I thank you. Thank you.

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