Dear Friends, Advent 2017
We walk. Every day. Our fitbits record the steps. The base goal? Ten-thousand steps, nearly five miles. The actual goal is to stay fit, keep our health. Bloomington is a good place to walk. The B-line trail is nearby, five miles of paved, safe hiking… soon to be extended. Indiana University is three-quarters of a mile from our condo. That’s 1,480 steps for Phil and 1,535 steps for Elaine. Sometimes we stroll them, sometimes mosey, most often to a pace metered by the music playing in our earphones. To grocery, library, barber, shops, restaurants, theater, museum, opera – we walk. It’s a joy – mostly.
We left the farm in LaPorte, Indiana last Advent and headed to Bloomington. The move spilled across the calendar of 2017. After jettisoning decades of accumulated “stuff” through an estate sale last year, we find we actually miss only a few of those former treasures. This year has been given to renovating the condo, sorting boxes, and reconnecting with many marvelous friends. We worship at St. Mark’s United Methodist, two and a half miles away. We haven’t walked there yet, but look forward to bike rides to church come Spring. So, Advent 2017 finds us in our new primary home, a condo in our walk-about community of Bloomington. Our lives are already full and overflowing with new activities and places of service – and, of course, there are I.U. sporting events for Elaine to attend (yes, she has basketball tickets).
Our grandsons Zack (9) and Colin Murray (14) are in Chicago. Our California grandchildren, Gus (7) and Ellie (4), now live in Oakland. Every month or so we travel north and/or west to steal as much grandparenting time as possible. Their silly jokes, hugs, wonder at the world and whimsy are another way we “stay fit” and enjoy our health. These young ones carry so much delight and potential.
Son Drew teaches at Hastings Law School and daughter-in-law Erin continues her work as research physician and faculty member of the UCSF Medical Center. Tom and Lydia Murray, live in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, a nice walk to Wrigley field. The Murrays are active with St. Paul United Church of Christ and the Lincoln Park Homeless Shelter. Tom is Managing Director at JPMorganChase. Lydia is a Senior Manager for Deloitte. Elaine and Phil also keep a small apartment in Chicago for a frequent get-away in that great city – and grands.
We wish you and yours the very best this holiday season. Not all of us can walk, but we can determine to journey away from the fears and bigotries so evident just now. Might we all journey as if we were escorting Mary and Joseph, so that that baby Jesus might be born anew in our world. It is recorded that Mary and Joseph traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem, probably walking most of the way, or maybe Mary rode a donkey over those rocky and steep paths. Depending on their route, 90 miles more or less, it took them a week or so. Despite the terror all around they seemed to step out in hope for a better world.
Daily it seems we have reason to fear and grieve. We see the damage done to our freedoms, our environment, and to others who differ in their race, religion, language or place of birth. We walk a rocky and precarious path. Even so, our hope for you and for all is for there to be abundant laughter, good health and new discovery of the remarkable friendships possible all around. We commit to join others in building emerging communities of resistance and hope. In these times when bigotry, division, ugly speech and greed seem to control the future, we know our prayers require action. So, we keep walking toward the hopes of those Bethlehem pilgrims and away from the ugly betrayals of this past year.
We walk together with you –
Elaine and Philip Amerson, 500 N. Walnut, #306, Bloomington, Indiana 47404