Bob Jorgens at the house built by his great-great grandfather, Ole Hellestad, in 1864

By the time this devotion is published, I will have just returned from an extended weekend at the Jorgens’ family farm outside of Scandinavia, Wisconsin. Twin Brook Farm was settled in 1858 by my husband’s great-great grandfather when he emigrated from Arendal, Norway. Bob is keenly aware of how fortunate he is to have been one of the recipients as the farm was passed on from one generation to the next, and he takes seriously his role of stewarding the land to the very best of his ability for the generations after him. He has an undeniable sense of connection to his ancestors on that farm. “Just think,” Bob once said to me as we were walking through the woods, “I’m walking on the very same ground that my great-great grandfather walked on!” To be honest, I’ve always been a little envious of the connection he feels to those who came so long before him.

Several years ago, I drove through my beloved north Minneapolis neighborhood where I grew up, recalling experiences that shaped the person I am today. I stopped at what had been the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop that my mother had managed for several years that was now a trendy little restaurant. After ordering a latte, I walked on the old hardwood floors, intentionally covering the space that my mother covered as she walked back and forth behind the ice cream counter. It couldn’t quite compare to the effect of feeling the same earth under my feet that a great-great grandparent would also have felt. But it did the trick. And in my mind’s eye, I could see my mother smiling at customers coming through the door and chatting with kids who stopped by for an after-school treat.

We all long for a sense of connection…to family members who came before us, to future generations, and to those we journey with today. Perhaps one of the silver linings in the COVID-19 cloud, hanging over us for almost two years now, is that we have been reminded how very much relationships matter and how vital it is be connected to a nurturing community if we are to live the abundant lives that God intends.

Feeling connected has been a challenge for most of us during the pandemic, but it has been a significant struggle for those already experiencing loneliness and isolation, particularly if they lack the technological means that make connection possible for the rest of us. I am grateful that in my short time at Prince of Peace, I have already seen how many of you are lovingly caring for others through prayer, phone calls and visits, emails and cards. I am inspired by your kindness and compassion. We sometimes forget that a simple gesture can make a world of difference to someone longing for connection, reminding them – and us – of the beloved community to which we all belong.

We thank you and praise you, O God, for the gift of community that gives us both life and love. Amen.