January 2011


My son is leaving.  My son Ben is leaving for New Zealand on January 4 for a year.  Nora and I thought we had experienced “empty nest syndrome” two years ago when Ben, who is the last of our three children, went off to college.  Of course college was just across the Tappan Zee Bridge at SUNY Purchase College.  He was back home most weekends.  But New Zealand?  That makes California seem close!  Our nest is about to be desolate!

            Most of you have met Ben.  You know what a great young man he is.  Ben is one of those people who can figure out how anything works.  If it breaks, he can fix it.  (What will we do if something breaks while he is gone?  What if the remote control for the TV/DVD equipment stops working?  I can’t tell you how many times I found myself with a picture but no sound, or sound but no picture; only he could restore sound and picture together.  That’s not to mention innumerable computer problems that only he was able to resolve for us!)  Ben is also the best hugger in our family!  We are going to miss him sooooo much! 

            Ben’s vocational passion is for the technical aspect of theater productions.  He loves bringing a stage alive with sound and light.  He has worked on many shows in high school and during the two years he was at Purchase College.  Now he has chosen to take a break from school and work for a year getting more experience using the “apprenticeship” model.  When he told us he was interviewing for internships, we naturally expected he would be somewhere in the metropolitan New York City area.  How could we ever have imagined he would be moving to Wellington New Zealand for a year to begin an internship at Metro Productions, Limited?

            Nora and I are caught up in the tension between our grief over his moving out, and our excitement over the incredible adventure ahead of him.  (Of course we are already planning a vacation trip to New Zealand!)  What a year he will have.  What a great life-stretching, world-expanding experience he will have.  I’m also a little jealous!

            As I was thinking about Ben and the year ahead of him, I realized that I need to think about my year ahead in much the same way.  I too can be embarking on an adventure.  To quote Hamlet and Star Trek, the year ahead lies in “undiscovered country”.  As with so much of life, it comes down to my attitude.  I can view the year ahead as “more of the same” or as “never before seen”.  I can choose to throw myself into the adventure and newness of the year, or steel myself to endure it.

            The truth is that every experience, every encounter, every moment is new, never before seen, and utterly unrepeatable.  No matter how much it may resemble something from before, it is different.  There is always something new to see, to learn, to do.  There are always new opportunities to grow, to contribute, to connect, to wonder.  God is waiting afresh around every corner.

            Like many at this time of year, I do spend some time reflecting on the year past and making resolutions for the year ahead.  There are many resolutions I could and should make (though my history with keeping my resolutions isn’t so great.)  The resolution I most want to make and keep this New Year is to approach the year with a sense of its potential for adventure.  I want to embrace fully the newness of it.  I want to “go where no one has gone before” (that’s Star Trek again), into the undiscovered country of my life, of this New Year, and of my God.  How can that not be an adventure?!


Way Cool Uncle Robert!

Sweet guy,


Since I didn't get you by phone on my first try at United Church this morning, I moseyed onto the Pastor's Blog page, which I discovered in the fall of 2009, when I was up most nights obsessing over our Ben & Susannah's wedding prospects. Because Nora got us your wonderful end-of-year photo and family news earlier this month, I'm already delighted about your Ben's ("baby Ben," in my mind) amazing prospects for a semester or a year abroad. Did you know that Susannah spent several weeks one summer after college travelling around New Zealand with a lifelong friend whose parents were there on sabbatical or some such? I hope that you are overstating your level of griefstrickenness for dramatic narrative effect in your blog, or if not, that you've gotten a grip by now and that you and Nora will feel free to rollick festively around the house in your birthday suits on the weekends...We can all adjust to terrible loss, eventually. If you need help with that, I am always here for you, ready to "ya-ya" as needed, I hope you know.


Please phone when you get a chance. I don't teach until 3 pm today, and have a new-ish cell. [John's cell and our house are same as always.] This weekend John and I are travelling to Charleston, SC, to pow-wow with prospective Maid of Honor Polly re a blessed upcoming family occasion, we hope---call us!


XO always to all our Williamses, your Jane