It is for us the living

It has been way too long.

I have been wanting to write here for so many weeks. And now that I'm finally here, I have so much to share. These past few weeks have been crammed with spring loving. Lots of amazing food. And some really great travels.

I've been eating as much spring veg as possible. Buying way more at the farmer's market than one person can eat. Because I know it will be a full 11 months until I can eat it so deliciously again! I can eat an entire bunch of asparagus in one sitting. They are unbelievably tender this year. The farmer I get my 'gus from says he's not sure why it's so good this year, maybe all the rain and cooler temperatures we've had. 

My lettuce isn't quite ready to cut yet. But the bunches we've been getting from the market are incredible. And absolutely beautiful. Wouldn't these make for a gorgeous bouquet?

I am mostly the only one in my family who loves radishes. I get it from my grandpa. I've been getting these gorgeous multi-colored bunches from the market that I can't help but show off. These amazing jewels of red and purple and magenta.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy a radish is on a buttered piece of toast with sea salt sprinkled on top. I've been so busy the last few weeks that I haven't had much chance to make bread. As a result, I neglected my 2.5 year-old sourdough starter and nearly killed it. I noticed it in the fridge last week, and it had this horrifying layer of dark matter on top. But I saved it (!), poured off the waste and gave it a clean jar and a nice helping of whole wheat flour. When I came back to it the next day, it was so incredibly active that it was begging me to make a batch of bread. One of the best sourdoughs I've made. I think it was the fear of death that made it so good. My radish gems on a thick slice of sourdough toast, with a few wedges of cheese, and a fresh peach a friend brought from Georgia made for the perfect Thursday lunch.

In between all this glorious spring we've been celebrating, I spent a week in Baltimore for work. I'd never been before, but what a city. I spent some time in downtown, near the harbor and in Little Italy. But we also hung out in the Baltimore 'hood, meeting and listening to some of our ministry partners. I've never seen so many vacant homes as in Sandtown. Street after street of boarded up row houses. I'm so grateful for the work of our friends in Sandtown, who have partnered with Habitat to try and make the area a little more livable. I loved the spirit of the place, and how openly they greeted and welcomed us to their 'hood. I saw this "shop" on a street corner in Sandtown and just couldn't help myself, it was too great:

After Baltimore, I spent a couple amazing days in D.C. Nearly four years ago, when I was a student at Columbia, I met an artist from Albuquerque who was inspired to initiate a large-scale, collaborative, activist art installation. I had made a cradle for her first installation, the Cradle Project, an installation of  a thousand hand-made, recycled material cradles as a representation of the thousands of children orphaned by aids. 

Naomi Natale's second activist art project was much greater. After spending some time in Africa and seeing the result of mass genocide, Naomi started the One Million Bones project - an installation of one million hand-crafted bones, laid out as a symbolic mass grave on the National Mall in Washington D.C. After five years of sharing about her project, making and collecting bones, the project at last came to completion as the bones were laid on the mall, a mass grave and a call to action laying at the feet of the capital.

Before we began the installation, representatives from various faith practices said a word, a prayer, or a poem. A rabbi referred to the Book of Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones, how God breathed into the bones and they rattled and came to life. We laid this valley of dry bones for nearly four hours, remembering and mourning, breathing life and hope into the future as we called for an end to mass genocide. 

After the installation, I went to see Lincoln at his memorial. Something about the splendor of the memorial and the grandness of the one million bones, made me reflect as I read Lincoln's words etched in the stone:

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.

Let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Carrying these words of remembrance and exhortation, I walked to the memorial of another great and broken leader. A man who sought to finish the work, to bind up the wounds, to seek a just and lasting peace among and with all. As you near the memorial, you walk through a rift between two mountains of rock and approach a segment of stone, moving around to the front to see the figure of MLKJ carved into the face. And that's when you see it. This piece of stone that has been removed and carved out of the mountain behind it. Etched on the side are these words:

Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.

What an incredible thing to be remembered for. I stood before piles of bones, a great man in a great chair with a war and a history of injustice and sacrifice behind him, and a stone of hope, broken away from a mountain of despair. I felt small and powerless, wondering what I was doing with my life to change the world, to bring justice, to offer my life as a sacrifice for the good.

Here we are, the living, dedicated to the unfinished work, the great task remaining before us, resolved to finish the work of binding up the wounds, caring for the widow and the orphan that the dead have left behind, and endeavoring for a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.