Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor
11024 S. Bell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
Reflection May 22, 2016
To Daphne Lou as You Turn Two
Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
Dear Daphne Lou, this is another birthday letter to you from your paternal grandfather. On May 22, you will turn two years of age. I’m so happy that you continue to blossom in every way. I’m also delighted that you have a new baby brother, Clark Kenneth, who was born February 10. You can tell him I owe him a letter!
Daphne, there are so many things I’d like to share with you. I hope I can continue writing these birthday letters for many years to come, sharing what bits of wisdom life has taught me. But life is uncertain and fragile and when you are my age, the future appears considerably shorter than the past.
On the evening of the day I write this, I will bring another college class to a close. I always feel sad when I finish a class because there is so much yet to be said. Life is infinitely interesting. I’m sure you already know this deep inside!
Let me share with you something from a philosopher who continues to teach me, Jacob Needleman: “There’s a knowledge in the mind … but there’s also a knowledge in the heart and in the body. And for all the important questions of life, these three sources of knowledge have to come together.”
Now, Daphne, I don’t expect you to fully understand what Professor Needleman is saying at your tender age - but the wisdom of this will unfold for you as you grow into the fullness of maturity.
On behalf of your Grandma Beth, I’d like to suggest that you immerse yourself in the world of music as you continue your wonderful growing. Grandma Beth has spent most of her life learning and playing the flute. Learning a musical instrument may well open up helpful vistas in becoming fully who you are.
As a child, I took lessons in the accordion. I stopped playing after my father, your great-grandfather, died. I wish I had kept my lessons going. I took up piano and guitar in my thirties but did not stay with them. It is my hope to return to the keyboard again in the future. Music adds much to one’s life and helps our brains grow and develop. So let me encourage you to give it a try when such a possibility presents itself.
The world in which we find ourselves is a vast playground - a vast classroom. When I was five, I took a train from Chicago to New York with my mother, my twin brother, and my older brother. We then boarded an ocean liner and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Ireland (the home of both of my parents - your great-grandparents).
We spent three or four months in Ireland, traveling around that beautiful but soggy island. I came back from that trip with a deep appreciation for what foreign travel brings to the table. I’ve had the great privilege of traveling to a couple of dozen countries as well as 47 of our 50 states. Your maternal grandparents have also traveled far and wide!
Travel opens one’s mind - and heart - to the complex interdependency of everything and everyone. I’m sure your loving parents will help you mightily in revealing the marvelous sights and sounds of our elegant, captivating, planet! Travel as much as you can!
We all live, Daphne, in a cosmos that staggers the imagination. I’d like to suggest to you - when you are older - that you watch all 13 episodes of the 2014 mini-series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. This series is very engaging and it gives us some much-needed perspective on our place in the universe. We, humans, can get easily earth-bound and near-sighted!
Daphne, when I think of all the changes and inventions that have come upon the world since I was your age, my mind reels. And the pace of change seems to be accelerating. It’s beyond imagining the multitude of changes awaiting you as you grow into adulthood and beyond.
The rapidity of change can be a problem for those of us who are older - and not all changes are for the better. But many changes have helped the billions of our sisters and brothers who share our world. There have been great strides in healthcare and in information technology. I believe we’re becoming more of a world-wide community as we share our stories.
Daphne, I apologize that your Grandma Beth and I cannot see you as often as we wish. It burdens our hearts to see you and your lovely family so infrequently. But please know that we love you deeply and dearly. If you need anything from us - never hesitate to ask! Family and friends are the surest road to life-long happiness. You are profoundly loved and cherished! Happy birthday, darling Daphne Lou!