We just left a wonderful little soirée for my mum, who just completed a whopping 32 years working for Deborah Heart & Lung Center in historic Browns Mills, NJ! An incredible achievement in this age of restlessness. The crowds of friends who came out to celebrate her showed gratitude and love for that dedication, and I saw some faces I haven't seen in decades. Some of them 30 years! (including the babysitter whom I once shot rubber bands at from the hallway, in my PJs, 'cause she brought her boyfriend).
My mom's an amazing lady. And she has a heart of gold. And she so deserves this time of rest. I don't want to say she'll keep busy, because that's a thing we often say in a negative way as if the silence after leaving the working world is a scary thing that one has to incessantly fill lest we feel alone. No. Mom will fill it quite adequately, I'm sure, with good, creative, reflective rest and fruitful human activity.
Now a quick jump to a divergent strain of thought that's full of irony. I know I'm a total Catholic Nerd because I'm always thinking about these things... and I'm certain it must come off as snobby at some level. Annoying even. But let me be the gadfly of this age of technolatry. I'm simultaneously one of its victims.
In the bar, called "The Recovery" there were over 40 screens of varying sports, news, and other shows. Yes, 40.
At our table, at one point, 4 out of 6 people were looking at their little baby smart phone screens.
I'm just saying. It's interesting. It took me off on a different train and I drew my wife Rebecca along with me to see the view.
J.R.R. Tolkien wouldn't sit in a pub that was playing a wireless radio because he felt it should be a place for human interaction. Faces and names. I think he would have called in the Ents to "release the River" on this place.
Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants.
- Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, 13
Again, this may be a strange juxtaposition of things. A retirement party in a place of endless sensory overload. But then again, maybe not. We must find peace in the eye of the storm. We must be recollected in the restlessness of modern life. Mom's good at that. She was on the move and didn't sit long tonight. But the beauty was in her connections with those faces and names. "I have to mingle," she said. "I should see more people."
Amen mum! So should we all!