Dear Friends,

One of the joys of having grandchildren is that stage when they play pretend. The youngest of our grandkids aren’t toddlers any more – both are four and a half – so some aspects of pretending are starting to fade a little. But their imaginations are still active, for which I am grateful.

When children pretend, pots and pans produce gourmet meals, dolls get fed and put to bed as if they are real babies, and cardboard boxes become anything from ice cream trucks to robot costumes to puppet theaters. Educators and developmental psychologists tell us how important pretend play is for children’s social and emotional development.

But playing pretend doesn’t work as well once one reaches adulthood. And playing pretend – as our national leaders and many ordinary people have been doing – has been disastrous in the face of the pandemic. In late October The New York Times reported that universal mask use could prevent nearly 130,000 deaths from Covid-19 in the United States through next spring. Yet people neglect – and some actively oppose – this simple safety precaution.

The sheer number of infections has driven hospitalizations to record levels this past week. And in the last two days alone, more than 3,200 deaths have been reported in the U.S. California will soon become the second state in the U.S. (after Texas) to surpass a million cases of the coronavirus. I think of what St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.” (I Cor. 13: 11) Wishing that things were different doesn’t make them so.

The Diocese of Chicago has written to parishes asking us to close our doors once again to all gatherings except for those that have to do with sustaining essential services. So, Ravenswood Community Services will continue to operate its critical feeding ministry on Tuesdays.

Starting next Sunday, November 22, All Saints’ will hold its worship services online. Sunday services will continue on Facebook at 9:00 am; Morning Prayer will continue to be offered Monday – Friday at 8:30 am on Zoom, Facebook, and Instagram.

This Sunday, November 15, will be the last in-person worship services until mid-December. Of course, our doors may remain closed for a longer period of time depending on the course of this latest surge.

I write this with a heavy heart. It would be wonderful to have the church full as the holidays approach. But that’s wishful thinking. Hope is much different from wishful thinking and has nothing to do with playing pretend. Hope looks reality in the eye, acknowledges it, and then looks for a time in the future when light shines in the darkness. I found hope this past week in Dr. Fauci’s statement that the pandemic will not be around for much longer because vaccines will turn things around. And I was reminded what hope is in a poem titled simply “Hope.” Sheri Reda shared the poem, written by Victoria Safford, at the Worship Committee’s meeting. Here are the opening lines:

Our mission is to plant ourselves at the gates of Hope—
Not the prudent gates of Optimism,
Which are somewhat narrower.
Not the stalwart, boring gates of Common Sense;
Nor the strident gates of Self-Righteousness,
Which creak on shrill and angry hinges
(People cannot hear us there; they cannot pass through) 
Nor the cheerful, flimsy garden gate of
“Everything is gonna be all right.”
But a different, sometimes lonely place,
The place of truth-telling . . .

Blessings,
Stephen