Alumni Voices | William Buckley (Le Moyne `74)
William Buckley (Le Moyne `74)
I live by myself, which affords cherished quiet. But a pandemic? I was laid off for seven weeks in the spring as my law office faced the shuttering of courthouses and litigation almost halted. Now my social life is limited to my co-workers, plus trips to the supermarket, and maybe church. Because winter in the Northeast puts the kibosh on outdoor dining, I expect even more “alone” time coming up, which means periods of depression, especially on weekends.
But I’m lucky. Forty-six years after my college graduation, I’m blessed with a good-sized circle of close friends from my school days. And I’m lucky that I went to LeMoyne, where, luckily again, some older students recruited me for International House, a community founded in 1963 by seven Jesuit professors, including Daniel Berrigan, who expected us, in following their example, to place prayer and the Eucharist at the center of our lives, to become activists, to serve the poor in greater Syracuse, and to focus academically on the roots of injustice. We were to herald the peace of Christ, to build the Kingdom, which included Mass, leafletting, protests, and, for some, summer in a poverty project in Mexico. Our magis.
That experience has come in quite handy these days. The gang from International House gathers over Zoom every two weeks. I look forward to those “meetings” and gain comfort from a sense of “they’re still out there and I’m not the only one who’s sad.” Plus the laughs.
I feel the same with the Zoom conferences organized for alumni by Alpha Sigma Nu and LeMoyne, where topics range from breweries and cooking to “running a Jesuit university in a pandemic,” the impact of the Erie Canal on Syracuse, investment strategies, Ignatian spirituality, and “how did America get itself into this health insurance mess?”
We face many inconveniences in the pandemic: masks, staying home, marking holidays differently, boredom, anger, loss, even death. But I think of my parents, who were separated for two years by war. My mother prayed that she was not pregnant when my father left for Europe in 1943, and he returned with an amputation of his left leg. She told me that my father came back “a changed man, never the same.” But my parents never complained about those sacrifices. Never. And I think of my professors at LeMoyne, who put up with a good amount of ridiculousness with us, as we might protest not only American policy in Vietnam, but almost any policy announced by the school’s administration.
So who am I to complain about masks, social distancing, and staying home?
Imitate my parents and those Jesuits. Ignatius directed his followers, no matter how busy with work, to pause for the Examen daily, to recall, notice, and reflect on God’s presence in that day. So... look back. Ponder your memories from school. Show hope to the world, set a good example. If we of ASN don’t stand up to the challenge, who will?