I am reading from A Chosen Faith, and the Beethoven CD starts on a portion of the Ninth Symphony. I stop reading and glance about my room, taking in the music and petting my purring cat. I see the picture of my nephews on the wall and I miss them. I’ve not bought them a Christmas present. I’ve not done anything for them. I am an absent uncle in all respects. I am dead in their lives. I recall an email I read earlier today, sent from a friend. It was a Christmas email she sent to all of her family and friends, telling them all that she loved them and giving news in her life. She said of me that she loved my endless passion for the pursuit of knowledge and my compassion toward others. I was struck by that. Pursuit if knowledge, granted… but compassion toward others? No. I have ideals, I think a lot of thoughts to be sure, and in many ways I am very much a liberal toward mankind. I would not object to being called a Humanist. However, compassion is nothing if it is without action. Where are my actions of compassion? I might give a guy my last dollar, help someone I meet on the street, but do these isolated acts themselve construe me to have a compassionate heart? I look again at my nephews on the wall. Gaige appears much older in the picture than the time that I saw him last. No doubt he’s grown even more than what the picture shows. Where is my compassion for them? What have I done for them? When he thinks of his uncle (if he thinks of his uncle), what does he think about?

I am so happy in my home of Eugene. I love everything about the city, the state, the community here. So why this lump in my throat making it hard to swallow? Why this veil covering my eyes making it hard to see? I am a neglecting uncle.

I had to stop for a minute, regain my composure. I wrestled with the decision on whether or not to stay in Oregon or move to Mississippi to be close to my family. I chose Oregon and the goals and dreams that I have in Oregon make me quite happy. But the sadness is still there. I still sometimes cry. Before Halloween I was at a bookstore and I carried my cell phone outside and dialed up my sister. Walking around in the parking lot, the beautiful Coburg Hills in the distance, I cried and had the biggest smile on my face as I listened to my nephew excitedly tell me about his plans for the scariest costume ever.

I am not a lonely person, but I miss them so much. What does logic and reason have to say to this?

I cannot continue. I am overcome by great wracking sobs.

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