It’s tempting to limit this year’s letter to just a few words: We mostly stayed home. But, in spite of (and occasionally because of) the pandemic which has impacted all of us, 2020 has been another eventful year. Like many of you, we’re approaching the end of the year with a mix of sadness about all that has been lost and deep hope about what is still to come.
Eliot and Winston wrapped up their fifth grade and kindergarten years online along with every other Chicago Public School student. While there have been talks here and there about the possibility of returning to the classroom part-time, so far that hasn’t materialized as a viable option. They are now deep into the sixth and first grades and are doing great! Each morning our dining room converts to their classroom. While they both miss being with friends, they like that the school-day is a couple of hours shorter than it would be in normal circumstances. We are really proud of their perseverance.
Back in March, when the quarantine began, we started taking weekly trips to the Indiana National Lakeshore, about 45 minutes away. Each week, in all kinds of weather, we’d hike through the forest and dunes and end up at the lake. During the summer these trips shifted to the Warren Dunes in Michigan for days playing and relaxing on the beach. Having these day trips to look forward to has been a good way to maintain some rhythm and anticipation during these times when it’s easy for days to blend together.
A couple of weeks ago Maggie finished her first year of classes at Erickson Institute where she is pursuing a master’s degree in early childhood education. Like the boys, her classes shifted online in the spring and she hasn’t missed a beat. Over the past few years Maggie has been discerning what her next steps might be as Winston entered full-day school. After lots of conversations, reflection, and prayer, she realized how much she has enjoyed working with young children, both at church and as a teacher’s assistant at the boys’ school. God willing, in a couple of years she’ll have her own classroom of young students!
It’s been strange pastoring our congregation during these months. Like most churches in Chicago, we have been completely online with a few exceptions when we could worship together outside this summer. I’m so proud of how the church has risen to the occasion by caring for each other and serving our community. But I can’t wait until we can begin worshiping together again! My book was published in May just as the country’s attention turned to another round of racial injustices. It’s been encouraging to hear from pastors and ministry leaders that the book has been a helpful resource as they seek to lead their churches toward justice and reconciliation.
This summer our family spent a week camping in Michigan. There’s a lot we didn’t get to do in 2020, but those days in the woods – hiking, swimming, rafting, eating lots of s’mores – was a good reminder that there have been many, many moments of grace too. We’re grateful for each of you and hope you’ll have a wonderful Christmas.
Winston, Eliot, Maggie, and David