It's May 16, my 62nd birthday today. Today I want to talk about one of the side benefits of the — well, maybe not side benefits. But one of the benefits of this pandemic is that it's brought life down to its core, to a simpler life. I want to talk about the simpler life. First of all, I want to talk about entertaining. So last night for my birthday and two of my friends who had a birthday this week. I had them over. And we entertained by having a fire in our backyard and a little portable fire pit. We have had this fire pit for a couple of years and we've used it more this year than we ever have before. Before, it never seemed good enough to have people over just to sit around that fire. It seemed like I'd have to have an event I'd have to orchestrate more, but it was so simple and so good last night these two couples came over. They brought their own chairs, they brought their own beer. We sat around six feet apart around that fire and we just had good conversation and watched the fire and then the sun went down and they went home and it was just a lovely evening.
I'm an Episcopal priest in East Lansing Michigan. And one of the things that I did last week was do a social distancing wedding. The couple, I had been counseling and planning to do like a normal wedding for them back in coming up in June. Um, they just decided they couldn't wait and you know to think about waiting as long as a year felt like it was too long for them and they asked why don’t I just do it. Well, I'm not allowed in my church building right now by my Bishops so we stood in the front porch or the back porch of the church and the Sun was shining and we found a little patch of flowers and the bride and her kids and the groom stood in front of the church and their Witnesses were socially distanced and I was socially distanced and they made their promises. And we set up a Zoom link for their friends and family. So the friends and family were able to observe the ceremony and then they were married. They're buying a house this week, are getting ready to set up their life together. And the joke was back in the beginning when they were planning their reception. They said “Oh, let's just let's just do it with Arby's, we'll just bring in Arby's” Well, they went through the drive-through and got Arby's for their wedding supper. So I talked to them yesterday and they're doing well and feeling a little a little weird but getting ready to pack their stuff up and buy their new house and start their new life even in the midst of this very strange time with so much fear and death. There was a joy and a new commitment to a New Life.
With Elementary and Middle School, it's like so many students like over 400 students that I see over the course of a week and I get to know students and I know their names and I know them collectively as classes, as groups, and the silver lining for the remote learning for me has been the kind of individualized connections I'm making with students where they share their — you know, I will post a lesson. I'm not doing synchronous. Everything is asynchronous at the moment. I'll post a lesson at the beginning of the week and they'll share a photo or a video of their work with me or they'll record their voice and then I can record my voice and give a comment back and sort of tailoring it to individual students and their families and seeing kids in their homes where they are just kind of their different parts of their personality have come out. So I've really enjoyed that. But I am becoming a bit fatigued as the weather is getting nicer and I mean everything is like a little bit of reinventing what I teach, what my lessons look like, what makes the most sense. I want it to be accessible. I want students who don't have the best technology access to be able to accomplish this. I want the screen only to be used as a prompt to get students away from the screen and be highly creative that way. I want it not to be super stressful on families. So I've been trying to do lessons where the whole family can participate it could be a son and a mother doing the theater activity together. A child doing it by him or herself siblings a group of four siblings being able to do the activity together and. Yeah, it's been it's been interesting. I have enjoyed some parts and other things, I'm it's just it's having to recreate our jobs. So that's that's tricky and just when you get used to one thing and feel good about it, like the learning platform one of them that we're using at our school. I love it, and it sounds like we might be moving away from that for next year. So having to relearn technology, but that's okay. We're adaptable we will figure it out.