A Vincentian View: Your Children’s Children
May the LORD bless you from Zion;
may you see Jerusalem’s prosperity
all the days of your life
and live to see your children’s children
Last year at this time after Thanksgiving, I wrote about my grandnephew Wes (Weston) who was just two weeks from turning one year old. I wrote about the difference which a child makes to a family gathering since he was the first of a new generation for us. This year, Wes is a few weeks shy of two and demonstrates considerable growth. He walks about independently and makes sounds which approach words. Last year, he had a plastic hammer and a work bench at which he would whale at multicolored shapes as he drove them into the table. This year, he has surrendered to his sensitive side and seems content with crayons and paper. I am sure that the results will find themselves to refrigerator doors in the tristate area.
At one point, Wes and his father and a few of his uncles went outside to play with a football. As my younger brother, the grandfather (!) and I looked out at them, my brother said something which had been in a corner of my thinking. He spoke about how special it is to watch one’s son playing with his son. The Hebrew expression for “generations” jumped to my mind: “your children’s children.” I understood that saying now at a different level.
The great majority of my grandnephew’s future lies well beyond my time. He will know a world which we only imagine in these days, and probably not accurately. But it is a world aborning. As Wordsworth said: “the child is father of the man.” The choices which we make regarding our environment will determine the future of his planet. The decisions which we make today in the political and social sphere will influence the direction of his country. The beliefs, the values, the virtues which we dismantle—if we dare to do so—will be lacking in his faith. In my grandnephew, I sense my long-term responsibilities in a way which is different from that with my nephews and nieces.
Once again this Thanksgiving I find myself very grateful. The gift of family, the community of students at St. John’s University, and the vocation to serve God’s holy people as a priest of the Congregation of the Mission lift my heart in grateful praise. I am thankful for the reminder that a future stretches out beyond my limited reckoning and that time belongs to God. The opportunity to contribute to an unfolding world places a responsibility upon my days, and I pray that I may embrace that calling eagerly and willingly. I do it not simply for myself and my generation, but for my children and my children’s children.