Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas 2015

Dear friends,
It’s about 70 degrees and raining out this morning, but the lights on the Christmas tree and the presents around its base insist that it is late December, so “merry Christmas!”
We still live in metro DC, but it feels more the way I imagine Miami does just now, so perhaps we’ll go in search of some Caribbean Christmas music, and let In the Bleak Midwinter rest for another season.
It does seem just now that the climate has changed more in the past year than we have. Life continues to be rich with the ordinary and filled with the day-to-day of school, work, and all of the little things that make up our time circling the sun.
The kids are all third-years in their respective academic endeavors: Hannah in high school, Martin as an undergrad at VCU, Bud doing doctoral work at UC Santa Cruz. It’s crazy to consider that in less than two years we will truly be empty-nesters, but, as the song says, “time like an ever-rolling stream soon bears us all away.”
Too morbid for Christmas? I hope not, because the old hymn does not fill me with any dread, but, instead, reminds me that we are all given this time and while time may well roll on forever, we will not. So, the question for us always is, what will you do with the time you’ve been given?
Here’s a bit of what we did with the gift of the last year.
Hannah grabbed hold of high school and embraced the challenge of three sports and more AP classes than I, not being an AP math student, can count. She continues to excel academically and compete on the track, in the pool, and on the cross-country course with some interesting mix of stoicism and laughter. She enjoys the exercise almost as much as she enjoys complaining about it, but she rarely misses a practice and gets positively jumpy when she hits the down time of late spring. The new year will bring a new urgency to her college considerations. She’s visited UVA and VCU, and we’ll add Stanford to the list when we go out to visit her big brother in the spring. There will be others, too, I’m sure. When not in school, you could usually find the girl curled up with a book, watching the Nationals disappoint us local baseball fans, or working at Camp Hanover.
Modern chess.
Delanie, Martin, Bud,
Hannah, and cousin Willamae
playing games at Thanksgiving 
Martin, meanwhile, spent most of 2015 in and around Richmond. He was only home for short spells, and is loving most aspects of life in RVA. School is, well, school, and it is, as it always has been for Martin, a necessary task but not necessarily a source of deep joy. He is studying social work, and has tremendous gifts for the compassionate work that lies ahead. Meanwhile, Martin’s deep joys come from his friendship circle, including his long-time girlfriend, Delanie, his housemate, Ford, his roommate from Mary Wash, Thomas, and a list of folks from camp and school, as well. We’re happy to know most of these young adults, and find our own deep joy in the kinds of people drawn into relationships with our kids. If you’re in Richmond, chances are you can find Martin either hanging out with friends, banjo in hand, or out on one of the local disc golf courses hating the game he loves to play.
Martin launching a disc
off the top of the world.
Bud, meanwhile, is getting into the Christmas spirit by teaching his sister binary arithmetic – for fun. That kind of sums them both up – she’s a math geek, and he’s a born teacher. He’s also a remarkably smart young man who finds his own deep joy in the complex intellectual challenges that he confronts in his computer science studies of games and playable media. He’s in his third year of life in California, and still mostly loving it. The one major drawback, of course, is distance from those he loves, including Monica, his girlfriend of almost six years. He has done a fair amount of writing, some publishing, and several academic conference paper presentations in the past year. If you Google him (well, first, that would be weird…) you’ll probably find some of his platform studies work, and chances are you won’t understand it any better than you would my dissertation in post modern philosophy. Nuts … trees, you know. 
Golfer. Disc. Basket.
Bud shooting from a
difficult lie.
When he’s not nose to the digital grindstone, you can probably find Bud on a disc golf course or out coaching the Slugs ultimate Frisbee team. His ultimate passion did cost him a fairly serious knee injury last year, and that has kept him confined to the sidelines since last spring.
selfie with guitar
The boys have infected their father with their love of discs, and, as a result, if you’re looking for David some place other than church, there’s a good chance you’ll find him on a disc golf course, as well. Throwing plastic had to replace running as the exercise of choice when foot and leg injuries curtailed running in mid-summer. I hope to be back at running early in 2016, but middle age brings challenges that they don’t tell you about when you’re 20! It also brings perspective, and with that a keen appreciation for the gift of good work. The year in the life of the wee kirk saw major change as we renovated a 75-year-old worship space to create a space more amendable to creative liturgy and broader community use. If you’re looking for an intimate space to make music, hit us up.

A 2015 highlight: showing
Crooked at the Floyd
Country Store in January.
Cheryl’s work at the big library on the hill continues to feed her, and, thanks to the powers that be, it feeds the rest of us, as well. She still loves going to work, enjoys her colleagues (most days), and finds challenge and fulfillment in working with educators who use the library’s incredible on-line resources. If you’ve never visited the website, you should take a minute and treat yourself. If you’ve never visited the library in person, you should take a day or two and treat yourself. Cheryl gives a great tour, and is always happy to welcome visitors to what we both think of as the most beautiful public space in DC. When not at the library, Cheryl can be found knitting, baking, reading, or enjoying the regular stream of folks who find their way to our little house in S. Arlington.
We got away from home a few times during the year, heading out the Santa Cruz to visit Bud and the beach last spring, and making short trips to visit the grandmas in Chattanooga and NE Ohio at various times over the summer. But for the most part we were happy to stay home and welcome others.
Some years ago, on one of our beach vacations, the kids noticed that so many of the beach houses have ridiculous and pretentious names. They decided our humble abode needed one, too, so we christened it The Randolph. Our motto: Welcome to The Randolph – enjoy fine dining in an atmosphere of casual chaos! Come and see!

Hospitality is the heart of faithful living. When we welcome strangers to the table we take our leave as sojourners on the way. When we sit down together at table to break bread we build, repair, and sustain the relationships that make life worth living. In a world that dwells these days in so much darkness, when we create welcoming tables we light a candle whose flickering flame may seem small and insignificant. But, as my friend David LaMotte suggested in a song, the light of just one candle defeats all the darkness in the world.
Holding you all in the light through these holy days.
the Lederle-Ensign household