Fall term is over. The Iliff community has quieted a bit.  I can hear some deep breaths here and there…signs that we are catching a moment of peace after a full term of course work, teaching, and stretching ourselves to further envision Iliff’s future.  This between time is just right for internalizing and digesting all of what we are learning about ourselves, this school, and the time in which we live. And, the holidays are before us.  There are planned a myriad of meaningful gatherings and services.  We will sit at table to share traditional food, special relationships, and remembering. And with the New Year will come hope and the possibility of examining some familiar refrains.

In Thornton Wilder’s play, The Long Christmas Dinner, the Bayard family gathers to celebrate the holiday.  The play is in one act.  It is a continuous and seamless Christmas dinner scene spanning several generations of this family. The family members enter, take their seats, talk about their lives, their illnesses, give advice whether valued or not, and share the most mundane things. They laugh, grieve the loss of loved ones, celebrate new life since they last sat together, and argue.  All of it is in the spirit of loving each other. Eventually, each one exits the stage and is followed by yet another generation that takes their place at the table.

One of the favorite parts of my work is to travel and meet the many generations of our Iliff family.  In each encounter, I hear the stories past and hope for Iliff now and for its future.  While Wilder’s play encompasses the span of generations, it highlights a series of present moments.  Each generation gets one.  We are taking our turn, having entered stage left, to now sit at the table under the lights and give ourselves to the joy and challenge of our work.

In the last few years, the Iliff community has been working together to increase our mindfulness of how we will live in our moment and what it will bring forth as our gift to the world. If we listen carefully, we can hear the conversation of the generations whispering to each other backstage, “What challenges do they need to overcome?” “What will they imagine for their time?” And with that, the memory of earlier challenges and other’s present day courage come to graciously remind us that we are not an exception to the generations. The expectant audience of the present is looking to join us in finding acknowledgement, inspiration, renewal, restoration, justice, peace, belief, groundedness, healing. They inspire our dialogue in the unfolding drama and comedy of our time.

As we enter this holiday season, may we do so with expectation. May we know that we are all a part of Iliff and this is our time.  We possess gifts from our history that form us for this work.   We have unique creativity that will bring theology into new expressions of human dignity.  We are creating places for those who will follow us.

Mindful that we are in the light, blessings to all in this season of light.

Rev. Dr. Thomas V. Wolfe