What a week it has been. Searching for inspiration after witnessing the violence, disregard and bigotry we witnessed at the Capitol, our SJTL teens and I listened to the final ten minutes of The Rev. Canon Paula E. Clark’s sermon from Washington National Cathedral. One by one, we shared what stood out to us—one teen mentioned that he “kept finding myself agreeing with her…” and another said that she couldn’t believe that, “…one in five families in the United States right now do not have sufficient funds to feed their families.” We talked about how rare it is to see poverty in our own neighborhoods and wondered what to do. Well, The Reverend answered us in her eloquent, yet straightforward style: She said, “…We’ve got to put on the garments of faith, compassion, inclusivity and most important, LOVE…Being the beloved of God requires us to love as God loves. To see each other as the Beloved Children of God—and that means we look with the eyes of love and compassion—even on those with whom we disagree.”
Happy New Year Families of SJTL! What a treat to turn the page on 2020 and look ahead to a year we can hang some hope on! Pictured above is my daughter, Sophia, 13 years old, who unbeknownst to her, captures the essence of some of the habits and feelings we share: 1) The ongoing attire that centers around sweats, pj’s and casual wear since we are home more than ever and no celebratory events to attend to. 2) A sparkly 2021 headband that has a listless “1” at the end; signaling the energy for a New Year yet…trepidation for the New Year! And, 3) The thumbs up sign partnered with a neutral grimace—pointing toward our weary hearts with a glimmer of hope and belief for better days to come.
#AdventWord is a global movement meant to stir the sacred by contemplating on a particular word each day of the Advent calendar. Some of our SJTL teens have joined the movement and shared their musings by submitting photos of what these words remind them of: Above you will see pictures that reflect their thoughts about “fellowship,” “strengthen,” and “tender.” Find out more and ponder the power of Advent by checking out the details at www.adventword.org.
Advent is officially under way and what a joy it was to visit and connect with our families! Donned with masks and gear, Reverend Lisa and I were able to see friends we had not seen in months. Our hope is that these Advent packages can empower your family to create sacred space each week, right in your home, at your own time and pace. (If you or someone you know might enjoy these materials, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can get them a package.) Be sure to email us some photos of some of the crafts and coloring pages you and/or your kiddos do!
We are gearing up for Advent which is just a little over a week away! Although this year looks different, we have plenty of creative options for families of all ages. “Do Not Be Afraid,” is an appropriate theme for this difficult time: Our Advent readings and teachings will be rich with comfort and support as we get through the holidays living through a pandemic. As this Sunday wraps up our last recorded Godly Play, the following four weeks will include options for families to explore this sacred season in their own homes, at their own time. On Saturday and Sunday, November 28 and 29, I will be delivering these Family Advent Boxes that include weekly envelopes to open together—chock full of readings, crafts and options to reflect upon the season. Be on the lookout for a special package delivered to your door that weekend!
It has officially been two months as the Director of Children & Youth at St. James the Less and it has been a gift getting to know the kids and teens of our parish as well as some of their pals from the community (yes, friends are always welcome!) In such a curious, unpredictable time, they have shared all kinds of concerns at our events and online zoom calls, such as, “…I don’t know when I’m going to be able to play sports again…” or, “I miss seeing my friends.” Our youth are experiencing much of the feelings and questions that we all have during this pandemic; anger, disappointment, anxiety, and of course, “Where is God?”
Calling all youth, from littles to teens! Our dates are firmed up for our August Compassion Camp—a five-week Sunday series designed to provide some hands-on work around caring; for each other, our world and ourselves. As we ready ourselves for a modified version of school—whatever that might look like—it is extra important to take care of the hearts and minds of our youth. Connecting to one another and to the nourishing presence of God can help our kids develop trust and faith during these unpredictable times.
As a young adult I read Nelson Mandela’s story and his famous quote, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” I have parented with this in my mind. I teach my kids to view all people as equally valuable. Skin, gender, sexual orientation, economic level, language, nationality, whatever the differences are, do not have anything to do with human value. And yet I have raised them in predominantly white affluent society. And actions speak louder than words. I worry about that. They simply do not spend much time with people of any color but their own.
To wear or not wear the face mask, has become the question. Standing in line at Glenview’s Dairy Bar Sunday afternoon gave me a chance to do some people watching. The couple behind me both had their home made masks on, one with a big floral print. The couple in front of me, one had a mask on the other did not. The students in front of them had masks on snug around their ears but pulled down under their chins.
Wearing or not wearing a mask can mean a variety of things that we cannot deduce simply by people watching. Was the couple in front of me from two different political persuasions, believing two different perspectives on the virus, or was one an asthmatic? The students clearly knew they needed a mask to at least be served but chose not to cover their nose or mouths. I was the only one who read into the instructions and waited in line alone. It is easy for me to be gentle and generous with people around me who make their choices, but it is really challenging to be a parent and explain it all.
Balance in family life is supported by attentive and reflective listening. Misunderstandings often stem from not listening fully to each other.
Winnie the Pooh often gets in these everyday muddles. One example is when Christopher Robin leaves a note for Winnie the Pooh that says, “Gone out, busy. Back Soon. C.R.” and poor Pooh gets confused and thinks a monster named ‘Backsoon” has taken his dear friend away. Pooh goes on to alarm everyone else and together they imagine a large purple scary monster named Backsoon has abducted Christopher.