Joe is home! It is good to have him back home with us, even temporarily, after 3 ½ years away. This is the first Christmas since 2005 that he has celebrated together with the family. That in itself is a great gift. But there is more. He has brought his girl-friend, Maki, home for Christmas as well. She is a delight. She has worked hard on her spoken English – a gift for us. Nancy has been “secretly” learning Japanese – a gift to them. With no facility for foreign language I am in wonder as these two women broaden their language horizons and are now learning from each other.
I also sit back amazed as I watch the interplay between Joe and Maki. There is mutuality, respect, humor and caring that is so obvious. Each cares for the other, sharing many things, and respects the differences of the other, their history, culture and even their foibles. It is so good to see our eldest son in a supportive and nurturing relationship. Nancy and I hope that Joe may have learned a little about being in a cooperative and mutual relationship from watching us over the years even in all of our human frailty. No matter where he learned the pattern we are delighted to see it being lived out before us in these two wonderful young people.
Joe will be seeking a 5th and final year in the Japanese Exchange Teacher program. And in the coming year and a half he and Maki will together discern what their futures might be, and I suspect it will mean making some hard choices. But that will come and make itself known when it is the proper time.
For now we all need to resist wanting to have all the answers and a full knowledge of the future. We and they need to live and appreciate this moment, the gift of being together, being present to one another and aware of the presence of God in each loving relationship. It takes practice and intention to focus and enjoy the current blessing rather than worrying about what happens around the next bend in the pilgrimage of their life or ours, or yours.