I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.-Ephesians 1:16
As has been repeatedly observed, it’s been an unprecedented semester and now it’s coming to an end. Grading is the last milestone on this newly unfamiliar road, and then, the summer.
We’ve all done more than our fair share of adapting this semester. We’ve learned to be apart from those with whom we’re used to being in close contact. We’re growing more accustomed to being oh-so-close all the time with family members while we try to get our work done, if, that is, we have the privilege of being able to try to work from home. Staff and faculty members with school-aged children are homeschooling on someone else’s schedule and the rest of us have been learning how to set and manage our own schedules when “going to work” means leaving the kitchen for a desk in another room of the same house.
Meanwhile, in the service of the long-term health of the University, some have been furloughed, taking with them years of experience and knowledge of how to do critical tasks, leaving others without enough time looking up the steep slope of a learning curve.
It can make us all really exasperated. And it can threaten to rob us of our joy.
There is much over which we need be concerned these days, but there is also and always the opportunity for thankfulness. We needn’t be thankful for everything. But in every moment there is an opportunity for thankfulness. Pay close attention to these gifts.
Among the things for which we are thankful is the opportunity to be a part of this community where not only is academic excellence pursued but mutual care abundantly expressed. No sooner had the word gone out regarding staff furloughs but faculty were asking how they might help and furloughed staff were themselves setting up a mutual support group on Facebook.
This level of mutual care and compassion gives us peace of mind because, as those charged with the pastoral care of this community, we ourselves will be unable to do so for the better part of this summer.
Both of us, Deaconess Kristin and Pastor Jim, have been placed on furlough beginning this weekend, May 15. Because of the nature of the law regarding furlough, neither of us will be available for any sort of pastoral contact during this time. We wish it were not so.
Yet, we are confident in the spirit of care and compassion that breathes deeply within this campus community. You will care for each other. Further, we know that we will have the opportunity to laugh and cry, pray, and praise with you again.
In the meantime, the people of Valparaiso University and our shared mission will be at the center of our grateful prayers.
Deaconess Kristin & Pastor Jim
May 13, 2020