First of all, I hope and pray that you and your families are safe and healthy!

My website boss (Khalid Ali may have been my former student, but he is clearly now my boss!) reminded me that I have been lax in sending out blog posts. So, I am sending this post today focused on 2021 and will be sending out another one focused on 2022 in the next few days (is that okay, Mr. Ali??!!).

Okay, let’s start with 2021:
It is definitely an understatement to say 2021 has been a difficult and challenging year for many people around the world — and some of us thought 2020 was as challenging as it could get! When people ask me how I’m doing, I become a little self reflective (I know that this should not come as a surprise to those of you who follow these posts 😉 ). My usual response to “Harry, how are you doing?” is: “Well, given that more than 4 million people around the world have died and millions of people are unemployed or under-employed, I am very fortunate. The key question is, how do those of us who are fortunate and blessed help those who are much less fortunate than us?” I believe this is a major question for anyone who considers him/herself a values-based leader.

The Covid pandemic continues to create chaos around the world. Instead of slowing down, it is speeding up. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the number of Covid infections reported on Monday of this week was 1.44 million, a new high! So what’s the answer? Remember, I have very few answers, but MANY opinions. How about encouraging people to get vaccinated? And practice the three things doctors have advised us for almost two years? i.e., Wear a mask in crowds, stay 6 feet apart, and wash your hands. It does sound like common sense, but as I quote Mark Twain (or Voltaire?) almost daily: “Everything is common sense. The problem is that common sense is not common.”

I am confident that we will get through this pandemic, and that the “light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.” But we do need to use a little logic and some common sense. One friend of mind told me last week that he felt strongly that America was built on “individual liberty” and the government shouldn’t tell him what he had to do or not do. I shared with him my opinion: You have the right to do what you want as long as it doesn’t impact the life and health of others.

Okay, regarding the holiday season:
As I have mentioned in past blog posts, I am fortunate to make a three-day silent retreat annually at the Demontreville Jesuit Retreat House in Lake Elmo, MN. This year it was from Dec 9-12 and several good friends and relatives from Minnesota, Chicago, and Boston also attended. I love attending the silent retreat at this time of year because it provides me with the opportunity to reflect on the past year (What went well? What didn’t go well?) and also to reflect on what I can do in 2022 to become a better Christian, a better spouse, a better father, a better leader, and a better teacher.

The retreat leader this year was Father Kevin Schneider, a Jesuit teacher at Creighton Prep in Omaha, NE. He provided helpful advice on the importance of slowing down and truly reflecting on what is important in your life. He focused on the benefits of slowing down, reflecting, and taking the time to actually NOTICE what is happening around you. The idea of “living in the moment” rather than constantly worrying and planning the next thing on your calendar….sound familiar?

I want to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season. I hope those of you that celebrated Christmas had the opportunity to truly celebrate the wonderful mystery of Jesus into the world and are getting prepared for a much safer and healthier 2022.

Feel free to contact me any time.