Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Smith house survived birthday week and now we are on to "back-to- school" preparations. Birthday week, the week when Denise, Noah, and Lydia all celebrate their birthday, is usually a week where our house is turned upside down by a pool party, followed by a pool party, followed by (yet again) another pool party. We barbecue and play and bask in the waning weeks of summer. This year, due to COVID, birthday week was different, but still good. Being with family is a blessing.
"Back to school" is different this year as well. I, like many of you, have watched, learned of, and supported numerous teachers who, due to age and health reasons, have chosen to retire. The risk COVID presents for some is simply too much. And like many parents, Denise and I have mourned with our children the loss of sporting events, rights of passage, and other things as we have tried to adhere to the rules of physical distancing. Finally, I have listened to the stress of teachers worried about what is being asked of them. Trust me when I say, it's a lot. In the midst of this I have watched as choices about going back to school have been increasingly politicized with fake binary choices of "for or against" being pushed by one agenda or another. It's a lot. It's a mess. It's a storm.
This week in our Gospel we will read about a storm on a shallow body of water.... We will then read about Jesus walking on that water. The thing about storms on shallow bodies of water is that the wave patterns become extremely hard to judge. They are erratic and can seemingly come from everywhere. Jesus in the Gospel reminds us during the storm to focus on him. During the storm that is 2020 and COVID, I would ask that you do your best to focus on Jesus and not each individual wave that batters the boat. When you focus on Jesus, you realize that you can support teachers, students, administrators, and parents as they each wrestle with very different feelings -- very different and very real realities. This year this group of people needs our prayers and support more than ever.