Dream Sheets

For some time now, since our leadership retreat on March 4, there have been large white easel sheets of newsprint filled with church hopes and dreams taped to the courtyard windows near the parking lot entrance. I hope they have caught your eye and caused you to reflect a bit. Each of the boards and committees was asked to generate some thoughts.

Yesterday I came to work to find them rolled up and leaning against my office door, and now they are re-taped all over my office walls here. I will spend the rest of the summer with them in front of me. Lots to dream about! Much to ponder.

Some of the thoughts are already happening, or works in process…Faster internet is on the way! A multi-faceted refugee re-settlement ministry is soon to come to life: did you know this is Refugee Awareness month? More details will come as we worship together. Pickleball tape has been laid on on the gym floor and Thursday nights folks are gathering. Outdoor worship is underway, and music on the steps is returning after some years. We have a new web and social media coordinator, Zoe Larson: as I write I can hear her making plans with Susan Lofton, our recent office manager. Together they will help us work on social media witness and improved and innovative communication patterns. And we’re hearing a lot and taking advantage of new giving opportunities and options. Lots of good going on!

And some of the thoughts are out ahead of us, we have yet to work on them…Bring a friend Sundays, a community garden, sound upgrades in the upper room, an occasional food truck (mentioned the most!), new affinity groups, and a fall new member drive. Lots to plan for!

Finally, some of the thoughts are larger visions we can take as goals for the near future… Growing children, youth and family ministry, greater investment in music ministries, renewed formation energy and participation, and a staffing pattern that promotes growth and reflects our mission, vision, and goals. Plenty of big-picture visions we. can work work toward.

As I think and pray about these thoughts and plans for our life of ministry together now in our 96th year, I am filled with gratitude and hope. It’s a new time for renewal as we return from the exile of COVID-19. I open the Bible and find that little psalm 126, a pilgrim song from that holy moment when Israel remembers the joy of coming home from an exile much more severe:

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,

when God returned Zion’s exiles.

We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune.

We were the talk of the nations — “God was wonderful to them!”

God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people.

And now, God, do it again —

bring rains to our drought stricken lives

so those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest,

so those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing,

with armloads of blessings. (the message)

God has been, is now, and will always be with us. I hope when you’re here you’ll stop by and add to the newsprint, and also engage our leadership groups who are working on these things. Now we have a chance to come together again and engage the mission of Jesus in a renewed way, looking forward to celebrating our one hundredth year soon to come.

How blessed are we?

Peter Hawkinson

My Rabbi

A week ago one of my many rabbis Rev. Dr. Frederick Holmgren died at 97 years of age. He was for decades professor of Biblical Literature at North Park Theological Seminary. He was my Hebrew and Old Testament teacher. I will always remember him as a gentle and happy soul.

I’ll never forget the tense morning of one semester’s final exam. Our bluebooks were ready. Fred entered as always with a smile on his face, settled himself, pulled out a folder with what we feared to be his unanswerable essay question, and then began to pray, something along these lines….”Oh dear God, bless us these students as they write now. They have studied and reflected; give them now freedom from anxiety to write with gratitude about all they have learned of your goodness and love. Amen.” Then taking his paper out of its pocket, he read it to himself silently, giggled a bit as he often did, crunched it into a ball, there it into the corner wastebasket and said, “I want you to write this morning about the God of Bible you have come to know.” And off we went, writing. And off he went, leaving a basket for our finished products.

He diffused the anxiety in the room with grace and humility. He prayed for our comfort and freedom to express ourselves. His test question was not devoid of the need for knowledge but focused on relationship with the Divine, as pietists are prone to do. I have never felt as much as I did that day a teacher being so much “with us” as students.

His life’s work was to connect Hebrew scripture and Jewish faith with New Testament and Christian faith. In many seasons of life he was under fire for this, accused hither and yon from those who saw things differently. Yet he never lost his gentle and soft-spoken witness to the God who cares about us all.

One example, reflecting on the hardest Hebrew text of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1-19): “Nearly every person who reads the narrative concerning Abraham and Isaac gives some thought of the question: How could a father do this to his son? That same question is often at the front of the mind with regard to the death of Christ: Why did God, the Father, do this horrible thing to his Son? However, the New Testament writers present the event in quite another manner. God is not depicted as doing something to Jesus; rather, they see the Father present in the suffering of the Son. Paul’s statement overwhelms the mind but it expresses the experience of the early Christians: ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.'” He continues, “We are not alone. The Mt. Moriah story, and the narratives that surround it, point the preacher to one of the central themes of the Hebrew Bible: Immanuel — God with us (Exodus 3:11-12, Isaiah 7:14, Psalms 103)…it is this “with us” God of the Hebrew-Jewish tradition who reveals himself in the life and teachings of Jesus(Matthew 2:20-23). The presence of this ‘son’ of Abraham reminds us that God is for us and not against us. He wishes life and future for all of us.” (Glad Hearts, p.325-326)

May his memory be a blessing, and may Fred Holmgren rest in peace and rise in glory.

Peter Hawkinson


Christ’s love has the first and last word in everything we do. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: one man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own. Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside….. (2 Corinthians 5, The Message)

We were on our usual rush home from Philadelphia, on the Saturday after thanksgiving. For a decade or so, while Bonnie’s brother Dwight was still with us, we’d all gather there where he and his family lived, in Dwight and Margaret’s home, around his bed. Dwight suffered paralysis at the age of 18, and now thirty years later could no longer leave his bed. So we gathered there.

Wonderful memories linger, but we couldn’t! Because of my pastoral ministry we always left early on Saturday morning to rush home for the first Sunday of Advent. It’s a twelve to thirteen hours — the first half across the beautiful but treacherous Pennsylvania Turnpike. Winding from beginning to end, its highlight is a trek through the Laurel Highlands with its tunnels through the allegheny Mountains. I’m here to tell you that in late November it is always snowing or icy up there!

On one of those snowy Saturdays having come through the last tunnel and about an hour northeast of Pittsburgh a sudden bang, a warning light, and a quick rumbling roar told us about a flat tire. Thankfully already in the right lane, we pulled over as far as we could on the shoulder while I immediately cursed the gray day. We were in a hurry and had a long way to go. It was cold, snowy/icy, and dangerous. And the spare tire was deep down under our packed minivan trunk.

Feeling sorry for myself, seemingly out of nowhere I noticed lights of a pickup truck behind us, and then in my rear-view mirror a shady looking character coming toward me. It hadn’t been but a minute, almost as if he had been waiting for us. As he came close and stood at my window my fear allowed me only to open it a bit: he was disheveled, heavily tattooed, and blowing cigarette smoke at me, and we were out in the middle of nowhere. He said, “Hey, why don’t y’all get out of the van”, and I took a deep breath and prepared for the worst.

“Name’s Kermit” he said. This is a dangerous spot. I’ll get that spare tire on there, and then you follow me into town. Let’s get you to a safe place. The owner of the tire shop’s a good friend. He’ll get you back on the road.” So we bundled up and unpacked and Kermit took care of business. I was wondering how much this would cost and was sure he’d take advantage of us even as he muscled the spare tire lug nuts into place. We followed him into town and while the hazards flashed I wondered what kind of hazard we were getting into. Probably would have been better to just wait a while for a real tow truck guy. It was a small small town, and it was thanksgiving weekend. Anything could happen. I remember even thinking “maybe I should turn around, peel off and travel on to some other more reputable place…” even after what Kermit had already done, just because he didn’t fit my image of a solid, trustworthy guy.

Here’s what Kermit did to teach me a holy lesson. He called up his buddy who I’m sure was enjoying his family by the fire, who arrived just to open up the garage for us. While I stayed with the van (still swimming in my unfair perceptions), Kermit took Bonnie and the girls over to the one restaurant in town and ordered them up an Italian pasta lunch. While they were there, a few other guys showed up at the garage to watch the spare come off and a new tire go on. They shared regret about our debacle. They smoked together, and told each other under the breath jokes. And Kermit said, as I prepared to leave, “Now you highfalutin big city folks remember us small town folk out here!” And we all laughed together. The Bill was fifty bucks for the tire. No labor charge, and Kermit refused my attempts to stuff a fifty dollar bill into his coat pocket. “C’mon, it’s thanksgiving, man!” he said. Again, we all laughed together.

It was a bit over an hour, maybe an hour and a half in all from the blowout to our trip’s resumption.

The lesson is obvious and holy. These dear folks joined Kermit in serving us at the expense of their own family celebrations. With good cheer they served and blessed us like good samaritans in the old, old story. I can only speak for myself about the unfair and hurtful perceptions I had about these folks who served us as if they were expecting us in the first place. I failed to give a look inside because of what I saw on the outside; so Kermit and his friends showed me, showed us the good that loving servant hearts can do in the world.

Kermit will forever remain an important person in our family memories. To this day I wonder if he and the rest of them were angels after all.

Love From Here!

Peter Hawkinson

A Summer Challenge

Well, friends, believe it or not: summer is here!

At church, anyway; yesterday we had our last official day of the program year. We wrapped up regular Sunday School, and choir; last week we finished Wednesday night programming; next Sunday we will move to 10 AM worship and much of it outdoors for the next few months.

This weekend is the unofficial start of the summer season, with an extra day off and cookouts and barbecues and the beaches opening up, and in a few weeks the summer solstice will ring it all in officially. But it’s time already for new rhythms, of rest and connection, of getting outside and peeling off the layers that have kept us warm for so long.

Summer means opportunities – for fresh food, for travel, for rest; even for those of us who don’t get months off from school any longer, it’s still a time when we can take the dogs out later and later for a walk in full sunshine, when we can keep the windows open all day and hear the crickets instead of the snowplows.

It also means opportunities for different sorts of gatherings at church, away from our normal rhythms of Bible studies and Sunday School classes. Pastor Pete blogged last week about lots of opportunities to gather in his family’s backyard for potluck dinners, or on our church’s front lawn for Music on the Steps. And today I want to share with you a special opportunity for learning and growing together.

This summer, I’m proud to offer WCC’s (first!) Antiracism Challenge, a ten-week program for both adults and youth. Pastor Lynnea and I will lead this together, and I’m hopeful that you will join us. It’s based off a 21-day challenge curated by the Evanston YWCA, full of great topics and challenging ideas.

Each week, we will explore a couple of resources (often a video and a reading) on a different subtopic of racism: environmental racism, racism and trauma, racial identity, privilege – just to name a few. Additional resources will be provided if any topic peaks your particular interest. And then we will meet – some weeks on Zoom, and a few times in person – to discuss what we’ve learned and how it is impacting us.

Each meeting will be on a Wednesday at 7 PM, hosted by myself, Pastor Lynnea, or often both of us.

The challenge begins on June 4, just a couple of weeks away. We will take the first week to start working independently through these materials, and then begin our weekly gatherings the week of June 11.

The schedule, which appeared on an insert in yesterday’s bulletin, is as follows:

Zoom meetings: June 14, July 5, July 19 and August 2

In-person meetings at church: June 28, July 26, and August 9

Some Wednesdays we will not meet because of another opportunity to gather – Music on the Steps! But otherwise we will gather each week to process and learn from each other.

I hope you’ll read along with us, and come as much as you are able. I hope we’ll all take some time to learn new things and grow in this summer season; stretch our horizons; push past our comfort zones; and find God there with us.

If you have any questions, or want to sign up for the challenge and receive the packet of resources, please contact myself or Pastor Lynnea. I can’t wait to get started, and hope to see many of you join us!

-Pastor Jen


Hello WCC Friends! This “blog” today lays out some practical plans for worship and fellowship this summer. There will be more to come — a book study group and other service activities.

Our worship will take place indoors once a month on communion Sundays, and otherwise out on the church lawn. We will rest from service recording and live-stream for our outdoor services. Also, on July 23 we will worship and picnic with other Northside covenant churches and on August 13 with Kingdom Covenant Church. On those days we will not worship on-site here.

Mark down other opportunities on your calendars and enjoy fellowship with others in our beautiful summertime.

Finally, Jen, Lynnea and I are available and hoping to catch some time for conversation and prayer this summer. Please be in touch as you see time and space for a walk, a cup of coffee, or some back yard time together. Thanks!

Love From Here!

Peter Hawkinson


ONGOING WORSHIP – 10 a.m. weekly beginning May 26.

Inside and Live-Stream
June 4
July 2
August 6
September 3
Special Sundays (worship and fellowship off-site)
July 23 – with other north suburban covenant churches, Location TBD.
August 13 – Worship and fellowship @Kingdom Covenant Church.

Outside and No Live Stream
May 28
June 11, 18, and 25
July 9, 16, and 30
August 20 and 27


Church Picnic Sunday, June 4 following worship on church grounds.

Music on the Steps – Wednesdays, 5:30 bring a picnic, music 6:30.
June 21 – XMQ – 7 piece pop orchestra featuring Susie Lofton.
July 12 – Glenview Concert Band
August 16 – TBD

Backyard Potlucks. Sundays 5 p.m. Bring a salad or dish to share. Dessert and drinks provided. Hawkinson house, 210 Lockerbie Lane, Wilmette.

June 25
July 30
August 27

Wed, July 19 — Anna Kim, Covenant Missionary, Dessert and ministry update,
location and time TBD.

Thursday Evening Walks beginning June 1 and ending August 31.
Each Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., walkers meet at the bench outside the Glenview Senior Center, 2400 Chestnut Avenue, Glenview. Walk at your own pace with friends around the beautiful Gallery Park. Welcome!

Thank You

I had a whole blog post planned for this week, about our summer offering from Christian Formation, a 10-week AntiRacism Challenge for adults and youth. And I will still write that post soon, perhaps next week.

But admittedly I cannot write it today. Because I have something much more important to say.

And that is: thank you.

On Sunday, my sister, who had been having some episodes of lightheadedness, suddenly passed out while on a walk with a friend. They wisely went straight to the hospital afterward and learned the cause of her dizziness: a large pulmonary embolism. For those of us who aren’t well versed in medical language – that’s a blood clot in her lungs. Or, to be more accurate, as we later learned, a series of clots that likely started in her legs and moved upwards. Very scary stuff.

The truth about crisis moments is that your world suddenly gets very small. The things I was so worried about before those words came across my text messages paled in comparison to her getting better. To her being okay.

But I knew one thing, despite the shock and the confusion and the fear: that we needed to widen the circle. We needed more people to pray. So I did what remains a very surreal thing, and typed out a prayer request on our Message Line to send to all of you.

And in the hours and days that followed, I was reminded of something that I can often forget. As a pastor, I spend so much of my time and focus on caring for the church, on caring for you, that I often lose sight of something equally important: that you care for me too – for all of us, your pastors.

You at Winnetka Covenant are especially good at that.

By the following morning, I had emails, and text messages, and phone calls asking about us. About my sister, of course, but also about my parents and me. I had someone call me and offer her incredible expertise gleaned from long experience with blood clots. Someone else offer to come spend time with me. Have dinner. Watch movies.

My sister, too, felt the impact of those prayers. Friends from afar sent balloons and called. Friends from close by brought food and medicine to her dog, who had been suddenly placed in boarding. They came with snacks and flowers and clothes from home, the all-important charging cords and a tablet to watch tv on. Books and cards and her own pillow for better rest. And now she is getting better, and today or tomorrow she will go home. My parents are on their way. I will fly to visit her soon.

The tears are going to come, I know. But they won’t be just because I was afraid. They will be because I felt the arms of God wrapping around us all, through the ways that you cared for my family and I in these tender, fragile days.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

-Pastor Jen

Some Real Good News

Guest blogger Mary Rhodes writes today.

I had lunch last Friday with a Northfield friend who grew up across the street from me. We’ve known each other about 65 years. Kathy was a brilliant student, and she enjoyed a thriving career as an investment advisor. She is well-traveled, well-read and has lots of friends. Although she lost her husband a few years ago, she’s been filling her calendar again and reclaiming her life.

But there is one big area where she is still stuck, she admitted, and it’s getting worse.

It’s the news. “I just find it so overwhelming, everything that’s happening in our world,” she said. “It’s getting harder and harder for me to handle. I literally cannot take all the bad news.”

What could I say? My friend is not an avid churchgoer. I managed to empathize with her sense that the world seems more and more out of control. So we left it at that and moved on. But it bothered me. My friend was sharing something so raw and honest and I just didn’t know what to do or say.

But now I do, and it’s this: “Come to church with me on Confirmation Sunday.”

If you want hope, that’s where to find it. Just think, each Sunday we immerse ourselves in scripture, sacred music and inspired preaching. But once a year, we get to see it all through the eyes of young people who are inheriting this increasingly baffling and confused world. What I saw this past Sunday was a revelation. Every testimony was so inspiring. I know my friend would have felt it, too.

Several of the young people who spoke said they were lucky to have grown up in our Church where they always felt comfortable and loved. But I was especially moved by Carter Ryan and his sister Ramona who said they started coming to Church when they were older, and it wasn’t a quick or easy fit. They didn’t feel an instant connection. It took time.

To you, Carter and Ramona: there are millions of adults out there who feel the same way you do. Coming to Church for the first time and finding a place where you fit and feel comfortable can be hard. You’ve done what so many adults have never learned to do: you stuck with it, you found a real inner life with Christ and deep, authentic relationships that will be your ballast in this world. If only all the adults not willing to risk that first step through the door could learn from you. You’ve found out it’s okay to feel some discomfort and to question. The rich reward you’ve gained in your struggle is clear.

And to you, Makeda Hausman: thank you for sharing with us your heart for a multi-cultural understanding of the world. So much of the chaos and confusion we read about each day stems from a lack of this understanding. You shined a light in your own creative way on a critical issue, and we are grateful.

And one more thing I want to say to all three of you and to Mark Bouwman, Tessa Bowen, Fritz Gerster and Sonja Johnson, from the class of 2023:you are the Covid kids who felt the brunt of isolation and confusion these past few years. But look at you now! I suspect faith will play an even more critical role in your lives because you don’t take the freedom you have for granted. You have all become so much more resilient in this fast-changing world.

And finally, to your parents: you who out-maneuvered every conflict — sports, homework, social calendars and lessons — to ferry your kids to youth group and confirmation, this was a big day for you, too. Your kids are staring high school with the one thing every person in this chaotic world needs, and it was hard-won. We are so grateful to you. These young people with their burgeoning faith will build a better world.

I know my childhood friend, if she’d been sitting with me last Sunday, would have seen it. Maybe the difficulties of these lean Covid years helped make what I witnessed more clear. You’ll never read a news story about what’s happening each Sunday afternoon or Wednesday evening with Lynnea Miller at Winnetka Covenant Church. But it’s just as powerful and real as any news story from the New York Times or CNN. How lucky we are as a Church community to have had a glimpse of some real good news last Sunday!

Mary Rhodes

The Limp

It happens at least once a week that someone will ask me, “are you limping?” And for thirty years or more I’ve been denying it. “Just a lazy gait” I say, and it’s really what I think. But recently I’ve started to feel that arthritic pain in my left hip, that’s surely the one over the years causing folks to wonder about my funky way of walking. Could it be that I am actually limping after all?

Recently I read a blog post on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog forum that causes me to wonder. Pastor Jeremy Berg reflects on the story of Jacob wrestling with God, and acquiring a limp (Gen 32). he says, “What is the sign that one has been touched and blessed by an encounter with the Living God? They get a big house, much wealth, and an easy, carefree life? Nope! The tell tale sign that someone has brushed up against God’s awesome presence is often this: they walk with a spiritual limp.” He goes on to reflect about a God who invites us to embrace a comfort-crushing brand of faith that leaves us winded and wounded as long-held beliefs and cultural values are at times broadsided by a sermon that reveals the radical and countercultural teachings of Jesus and His Kingdom.”

It’s quite a story we find there. Jacob’s name is changed to Israel, which means “One who struggles with God”. That’s quite a name God chooses! Chosen and beloved people shall be those who wrestle with Yahweh. And Jacob, their patron saint, lives forever forward with a limp, as if to always be a visual reminder that a life of engaged faith is vigorous, often uncomfortable and leaves scars.

Isn’t that the way life really is after all? In my case, my guess is that all the years of basketball, of pounding the pavement at Hollywood Park and Loyola Park, left me with some hip trauma that is beginning to talk to me now decades later. And it’s most certainly true that the older we get, the more we limp through life. And that metaphor might follow in terms of our faith journey with God also, even, even at God’s own bidding!

It’s almost as if God says, “I love you, you are mine, I bless you, now let’s have at it! Be honest with me. Engage the struggle of making sense of life. What is it that you want to talk about?”

In this sense, an honest and engaged journey of faith that moves with the journey of life opens up to more of the questions and struggles and mysteries as time passes. Like the Psalms. Where are you, God? Why is this or that happening? I cry out for your presence because my enemies surround me, I lament because injustice prevails. I pray but can’t overcome this addiction. Act, God! Do something!

In Jacob’s own case, he was coming to grips with his deception and thievery way back when with his brother Esau, who’s waiting for a reunion with four hundred friends on the other side of the river. In his brokenness he wrestles with God and lives to tell about it. But he leaves that encounter with a limp. A strange and wonderful blessing.

Jeremy Berg goes on to say, “I want to be a pastor who leads with a limp and I want to lead a community of people who would rather be uncomfortable in the awesome presence of God than comfortable in our own self-made world where Jesus’ meddling presence is kept safely at a distance.”

Any faith journey with the Living God is always both comforting and challenging. We are blessed, but also called always into new ways of being, doing, living. Courage and honesty are essential, and the calendar of best laid plans written in pencil as those plans may well change. To wrestle, to grapple with the Living Presence and often elusive God we know, will leave us limping but also more alive.

This early Wednesday morning my hip is more sore than normal, because I spent the night on a cot up in the prayer room supporting our family promise ministry. And it’s time, I think, to come clean. No more excuses. I think I have a slight limp. There, I said it! And I’m sure the limp will grow until the day when it’s time for a new one.

What I’m hoping too is that as my journey with faith grows old, there will be more of a limp too, leftover from close encounters with my Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.

Love From Here!

Peter Hawkinson



“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are.” (1 John 3:1)

I’ll admit it. I was a challenging child! If my mom were here, she’d second this sentiment. I think about her mostly when the springtime comes, and her birthday a month from now. Alyce grew up in Kansas City, where her father Leonard Larson pastored the first Covenant Church of Kansas City. She came to North Park Junior College as a music student and met my father, who was a seminary student and vocal soloist in need of accompaniment. The rest as they say is history.

On this sunny spring day I’m reflecting on how it was my mom, more than anyone else in my childhood, who helped me understand what it means to be beloved. Two special days from way back when flood my heart today.

The first was a surprise when one third grade mid-morning I was called to the principal’s office (not an uncommon occurrence!) only to see my mom’s smiling face in the doorway. Mrs Stanek, the principal looked much happier than usual as she told me I was in for a surprise field trip with my mom, and off we went. Wanting of course to know what when and where, my mom just said, “Well, let’s go to McDonalds, and I’ll tell you!” Those words I’ll never forget, both the words, and the love attached to them, along with these: And there I found out that we were going downtown to a concert by the Chicago Symphony, a first time affair for me. On the way, mom told me that she loved me, and then told me all the things about me that made me special. I’ll never forget it. Moments like that in this heated up life are rare. And the concert, wow! That day Leonard Bernstein conducted and narrated Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev and A Young Person’s guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten. That was the day I fell in love with symphonic music, and the whole day was summed up in mom’s last word as we turned down Spaulding Avenue, “I hope you know how much I love you, Peter.”

The second day, not long after, was another day to skip school, this time a trip to see a psychologist in the Old Orchard medical building. I have wondered if the first day was a caveat for the second. Someday in glory I’ll ask mom that question. I was undergoing testing for ‘hyper-activity”, as I don’t think ADD and ADHD and terms like that as such existed in the early seventies. I remember the day well, and how mom tried to downplay the upcoming meeting when I asked her why we were going to the doctor, and she said, “Well, Peter, you’re special, and we’re going to a doctor who can help us how special you are.” Sounded great to me. I was beloved, you see. I don’t remember a whole lot about the actual time together with the psychologist, which I suppose is a good sign that the event didn’t traumatize me. The main treatment was tough, though — dietary restriction of sugar and no hot dogs. What? No hot dogs? I’m grateful for the ways we have progressed with testing, treatment, and medication.

What I will never forget is that after the meeting with the doctor mom said to me, “Hey, I could take you back to school, but how about we go and have a fun lunch together!” And off to the Barnum and Bailey restaurant we went, replaced these days by the Pita Inn on Dempster.

A caveat here. I mention the restaurants because they were so special, so rare. It might have been twice a year we went out to eat. With five children in the family, that was never in the budget. So it was special, a rare treat, and when we got there and mom said, “Now Peter, I want you to get WHATEVER you want.” I can still hear her emphasizing WHATEVER. That was an extra special thing. Not surprisingly, I settled on the Francheezie — a Chicago classic all beef hot dog split down the middle, filled with velveeta cheese, wrapped in bacon, and deep-fried. The treatment plan would have to wait! This was a day to celebrate, and I finished with a hot fudge sundae with all the different colors of whipped cream they used to put on top. Again, during that meal, my mom told me again how much she loved me. I can still hear here this very moment, almost with a tear wishing for that time and place again.

But Alas, half a century has passed, and Alyce left us in 2015 after a four year cancer struggle. What remains are those moments, those days when time stood still and she so fervently loved and cared for me (even though I realize now that my “specialness” was often a challenging one! What I take from those encounters is this, that life’s most important, valuable, indeed priceless work is to use the moments of life I have left to bless, to lift up, to love others around me, AND to be intentional in words and actions that reflect the love that God has for each of us, every one of us, just as we are.

These were the days when I “saw” the manner of love God has for me. I’ve never let go of that, and never will. May you know deeply and experience that love that God has for you.

Love from here!

Peter Hawkinson

Planting Seeds of Hope under Dark Skies of Uncertainty

My childhood pastor, Glen Wiberg, who died a few years ago, left the most wonderful image and story of the essayist E.B. White behind. It blesses me in every resurrection season, as I see the perennials suddenly, breathtakingly appear again. Though you’ve likely heard it, I must share it again. Wiberg writes:

E.B. White writes of watching his wife Katherine planning the planting of the bulbs in her garden in the last autumn of her life. He wrote: “There was something comical yet touching in her bedraggled appearance…the small hunched-over figure, her studied absorption in the implausible notion that there would be yet another spring, oblivious to the ending of her own days which she knew perfectly well was near at hand, sitting there with her detailed chart under those dark skies in dying October, calmly plotting the resurrection.

Wiberg reflects, “What a provocative phrase: ‘plotting the resurrection“! Katherine was a member of the resurrection conspiracy, the company of those who plant seeds of hope, seeds of tomorrow under dark skies of uncertainty and impending death; people going about their living and dying until, no one knows how, when, or where, the tender shoots of life appear, and a small piece of creation is healed. That’s who we are as God’s Easter people — those oblivious to the ending of our own days, calmly plotting the resurrection.”

The pithy saying rings true: we don’t know what the future holds but we know who holds the future. This new life Christ has planted in me will survive my death as it grows nearer each day. I can live with hope, even under dark skies because of this. I can plot the resurrection now even from this mortal veil. While I must experience “mortal ills prevailing”, I can defiantly keep planting seeds of life with faith in that one “whose kingdom is forever”.

As far as I know, my health is adequate. A recent annual physical and blood tests did not set off any major alarms. I am not attempting to morbidly communicate some infatuation with death. No, quite the opposite I hope — that though more of my human life is now behind rather than ahead, life is really just beginning! And God has made it so, once and for all in Jesus, the Holy One who came out of the death that wanted to have a lasting hold on him, and said to the world, “You also will live.”

Can you plot that resurrection life wherever you are just now?

Love From Here

Peter Hawkinson