Our Family Ministry blog offers insights, musings and information about religious education at River Road.

Sometimes, I too, engage in magical thinking.  My magical thinking almost always involves focusing on the lemonade possibilities of the lemon moment. (In good times, however, I am often on the lookout for where lemons are lurking. Hmm?)

My current lemonade thinking about the pandemic is about how it could help us see what always has been here.  When the world is thrown off balance….things once invisible are not so any longer. Possibilities are now imaginable.  

Having entered the acceptance phase of my profound grief,  I am trying to see what could be.  Because, what other choice is there?  

We are at the-Thomas-Edison-moment-of-employing electricity as it relates to technology.  And as the trajectory of demographic forces seem intent on recreating a past that was NOT rosy, technology has become suspect #1 in all that is unholy or scary.  New technologies are lemons and fall from the sky….possibly knocking us out. 

Today,  as kids spend hours online in what used to be every parent’s nightmare, @snickerpants aka Tiffany Pitts relays this “discovering lemonade” story about her son’s online life:  

My 15 year old son has spent every second of his free time during this pandemic hanging out online, playing video games with his friends. He started by ranking up to the elite tiers in one game and I am told this is quite a feat. Honestly, I believe it,  because it took him and his friend 6 hours a day for a week to rank that high.

After that came another. He joined up with more friends until that one lost its shine. Also, he left it when two friends started arguing during the game.

Two nights ago they had a plan to meet up as a big group on Fortnight. None of them really play Fortnight much anymore because the crowd is a little younger. But they didn’t want to work too hard at [actually] playing, they just wanted to hang out.

Last night, six of them met up again on Fortnight to hang out and play. They were goofing off, doing stupid teenager stuff, when they met a solo player named JamMaster.

Sometimes if they meet solo players that are pretty chill, they’ll join forces. JamMaster seemed pretty young but he was by himself and they were having fun showing him what they knew about the game. They invited him to join their crew.

Pretty soon they discovered that their first impressions were correct. JamMaster was MUCH younger than they were – only 10 years old. They also discovered that it was his birthday in the morning.

 JamMaster had been hanging out by himself all night, on the eve of his 11th birthday which would be spent without friends in social distancing at home.



They guided him thru a bunch of in-game adventures, gave him all the in-game loot they could, helped him win a few battles, and made him stay up until midnight so they could all sing happy birthday to him.

This morning, as my son told me about it and all the fun they had, I started to cry. I was trying to say something like “Oh that’s so nice” but tears just started spilling down my cheeks.  

CAN YOU IMAGINE? The disappointment of being quarantined for your11th birthday only to be met by a random six-pack of teenage gamers who decide you’re awesome and want to throw you a birthday party?

In conclusion: video games, hell yeah.

Me: Lemonade. Hell, yeah!

….But for parents, perhaps the following image flashing by every 20 tweets on Twitter, and on other social media, is the source of the angst. Daily existential dread of the first days is now replaced with achievement dread…

……What is missing is not human contact…I have my mother, my husband, friends, far flung family, my granddaughter and
my children and many of you. We are in regular contact, in some cases far more than we were before Corona.
Good news, everybody!  The Easter Bunny has just emailed me.  They have  asked me to pass along this message to all of you…
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“Courage,” Maya Angelou writes,  “is the most central virtue because without it you can not consistently live out the other virtues.” Can we teach courage then?  Writers, philosophers and theologians alike suggest that courage is borne from engaging the world, not being protected from it. But what about now?  Are we protecting ourselves from it or showing courage in protecting others?…

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…I am someone who would have been at the game or watching it on TV, it connects me to my life before corona.  And it reminds me, before it gets too far away, to ask you to describe with paper and pencil/crayon/marker/pen,  the last “normal day” you had. Invite your children to draw their last day at school and add any words to the image including names of all the people on that day.  Maybe listening to this recording or this one helps. When you finish, listen to this one...

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Before I drove away,  I asked why he called a Silver Dogwood a shrub, it was to me, a tree. He said, “Yes, but it’s all understory, growing under the big stuff.” “Hmm,” I replied.

What I knew in that moment was that this understory, this planting and growing and labor and people working together yet apart, is happening everywhere and right here, all under a vastly larger landscape, not of trees but of a virus, but also maybe something else we can’t quite see yet.

Thank goodness for the understory. It is what will save us.

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What I will miss most are the children, of all ages, who make these stories. Their spirit, almost always fully visible, their trust, and their willingness to engage, always, always, reminds that the world is worth saving.

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Will you join me at the Retreat in West River?  Last week, while working with the 3rd-5th graders on Making Sandcastles (and what it teaches us about resilience), part of the challenge was finding a partner to work with who was not a good friend. There were eleven (11) children in the room and and to a one they said, “we don’t have any good friends in here.”  

I am not sure they caught my intake of breath but it was a haunting memory of the morning. Friends, for adults too, can be a primary reason that congregational life is attractive and confirmation of its value.  If you have friends at RRUUC,

ChalkTalks: Who Am I?  Each 3rd Tuesday evening beginning at 6:45pm, a few hearty folks gather together as the RRUUC Religious Education Committee begins its meeting with others who have come to talk for 30 minutes about the assigned topic — this past month’s — Why a Multiracial Multicultural Religious Education?

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A Family Movie Review...what it does depict is the life of children, and some adults, trying to be “free” in spirit and to themselves, and to include others who are just a bit off and out there, non-conformists, or people for whom something has set them apart. It teaches us that freedom is a promise though there are painful costs….

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New Year’s Ponderings from Gabrielle Farrell  It is almost always possible to participate in congregational life on any and all Sundays…. but it is NEVER convenient. There is always something else to choose from.  And once the commitment is made, it is rarely easy to get family settled and be ready to turn
 attention to matters of spirit.             

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