I haven’t posted much here the last few months. A lot of transition has been happening. My family and I moved from Washington DC to Holland, Michigan in July. We were unable to continue our efforts of building community with Roots DC for a variety of factors, and it was a sad farewell. We had an amazing time in the almost two years we were there, and I’ve resisted writing about it because it is still something I am processing and a bit hard to put into words.
We are so grateful for the time we spent in the capital city. The neighborhood we lived in became home in many ways: we got to know kids at the park, enjoyed house concerts at a neighbor’s basement, attended (and held) regular backyard parties, enjoyed impromptu glasses of wine on a few front porches. Urban life has its challenges, but one of the blessings is the sense of neighborhood that can truly be experienced.
We also developed a close-knit community of people with Roots DC. Many were coming from varying traditions, and most ready to be done with a formal church experience. I think we were among them. Yet in our living room we gathered for simple worship, reading and studying the text together, and breaking bread. In that setting, we felt reconnected to the Holy and to each other. We purposely held off on a ‘fast-track’ approach to allow depth and relationship to gather rather than pursuing numbers simply for the sake of growth. Eventually we began gathering in a historic pub in the Dupont Circle neighborhood on Sunday mornings—the same place we’d been gathering for over six months on Tuesday evenings for Pub Theology conversations. This setting was unique, informal, accessible, and, frankly—fun.
There were a number of highlights from our time – you can read about some of those in my wife’s blog post here: Things I Will Miss About DC. One not mentioned there is that I was an official beer critic/judge for the Washington Post’s Beer Madness, where we tasted 32 regional craft brews and selected a champion. (And I can’t forget visiting Nationals Park numerous times rooting on the Nats, as well as visiting Oriole Park at Camden Yards to watch my Tigers beat the Orioles. A memory I cherish after this year’s playoff disaster!).
Yet in the end, we simply couldn’t afford to live as a family of six in such an expensive city. School options weren’t great, and living outside the city held less appeal as we didn’t want to be disconnected from the urban center (not to mention dealing with Beltway traffic!).
And so, after much wrestling and prayer, we decided we couldn’t continue. We were sad to leave. DC has made its mark on us. We hope we left some small impact on DC as well.
So, what now? I am continuing to work for the nonprofit Shalem Institute in DC, working remotely (it would be a long commute!) helping run and troubleshoot online courses as well as curating their social media content. I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue with such a great organization. Shalem has been a leading center for ecumenical spiritual formation for over 40 years, and specializes in teachings and practices that foster contemplative living and leadership. I’m also helping facilitate a local Pub Theology gathering at Saugatuck Brewing Company and doing some web development work on the side (holler if you need a new website or social media help!).
A friend shared a quote from Teddy Roosevelt that has been an encouragement to us, in the face of our current situation:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
But for now, to all who risk adventure, who know the joy of discovery and the sadness of goodbyes—keep it up, even when things don’t pan out as intended.
Good things still may come.