December 2022


As we were preparing to go to bed last night, Susan commented to me, “It seems strange that somehow we have made it to 2023.” It is strange, and nice at the same time. I have a distinct memory of attending a 50th wedding anniversary in 1973 and trying to imagine what it would be like to be married for 50 years. The couple celebrating seemed to me to be nearly impossibly old - older even than my parents, an older that Susan’s parents. I thought them as being of our grandparents’ generation. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be that old.

And now, here we are! Yesterday we were sitting at our daughter’s dining room table discussing plans for our 50th wedding anniversary that will take place this summer. Our daughter will be 20 years older than I was in the summer of 1973. We are the grandparents’ generation - elders in our family. It does feel a bit strange to think of writing the date with the year 2023. It is also wonderful to be where we are in our lives right now.

When we married, I wondered what the future would bring for us. In the first part of the year, I didn’t even know where we would live once we were married. I didn’t know what summer job I would have to support us as we made the transition into our senior year of college. I had a pretty good idea that we would go to theological seminary after college, but we had not yet completed our applications. We had not even taken the Graduate Record Exam, so we didn’t know if we would be able to go to seminary. We did know that there were no accredited theological graduate schools in our home state. I don’t think we could imagine what it would be like to move out of state. I was just trying to wrap my head around not going to my home for a summer job. I didn’t know where I would be working after we got married.

It all worked out that year. I was able to secure the position of janitor at Kimball Hall, which was the building with the offices of several church conferences and an inter church agency. The job came with an apartment. Where to live was worked out. A kitchen, a bathroom, and an everything else room. We had a hide-a-bed sofa to transform that room from our living room to our bedroom. It also doubled as our study. I assembled bookshelves and set up my desk and typewriter. We shared that manual typewriter for the rest of our college and graduate school educations. I had no idea what a computer was or how it would figure into my personal life. After consider driving an ice cream truck for the summer, a job came through at a large production bakery. I had a real job with real wages lined up for the summer. I also found a part-time job guiding a visiting youth group in the mountains to bridge the gap between the end of the school year and the wedding. We set the date and sent out invitations. We knew we would get married at Susan’s church, which I had joined. We knew the ministers who would officiate. We had a friend who would sing. One of our college professors would play the organ. And we would get married on a Friday. I didn’t have to start my new job until Tuesday, so we’d have the weekend for a honeymoon trip. Susan’s parents had a cabin in the mountains and that was destination enough for us.

We talked about dreams and plans that summer. We imagined where we might go to seminary. We decided to apply to schools in Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco because those were places where there were consortiums of multiple theological graduate schools of different denominations where we knew the schools would be academically challenging and we would have opportunities to be exposed to scholars with different perspectives. They were also centers of theological libraries at the time. We didn’t know what a move across the country would entail, but we felt we could face it together. We couldn’t imagine that we would end up living in five different states over the next five decades.

We talked of having children. We knew we wanted to wait until we finished our education, but we didn’t know how wonderful becoming parents would be, or how incredibly fortunate we would feel to have such wonderful children. We didn’t even think of what it would mean to have our children grow up, become adults, marry, and have children and lives of their own. I do remember remarking, early in our marriage, that I thought it would be fun to be a grandpa. I liked working with wood, and I imagined that I could spend my time making wooden toys for children, but I had no idea what it really means to be a grandpa. I couldn’t imagine the deep joy of being greeted by a grandchild who hugs you with their whole being.

We dreamed of travel, but we had never taken a trip more than a couple of hundred miles together. I don’t think we could have imagined that we would go to Europe and take a second trip to England, that we would go to Costa Rica multiple times, that we would travel to Japan and all around Japan by train not just once but twice. We couldn’t imagine that we would one day drive 6,000 miles to help our son move from the west coast to the east coast to attend graduate school and that we would make multiple trips to North Carolina in a two year time period.

I don’t know what I thought it would feel like to enter our seventies. I just thought that was an old age. I guess I thought that people that old didn’t do much except sit in rocking chairs and pursue hobbies.

2023 will be a momentous year for us. We have much to celebrate, but we also have much to learn. We have events to plan and invitations to send. We have grandchildren to love and teach us about the joy of being the age we are.

Happy New Year. I expect your year will be as momentous as ours. Who knows what surprises we’ll experience in the year to come.

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