What a privilege

News, I have such news! This past week a very tiny little girl finally entered our world. Welcome.

Ada Joellyn. Isn't she perfection? She is the third of my niece/nephew trio. Currently the smallest and quietest. Also, she has the BEST older brother an Ada Jo could ask for. This cool cat:

He made his first appearance on this very blog just two years ago. Crazy. Anyway, Ada is an absolute gem, and we're all in love with her. I'm so proud of my brother and sister-in-law for being such great parents and for making such cute kids. When Silas was born someone told me that becoming an aunt changed her in some way, that it was one of the coolest things life had handed her. I absolutely get that now. It's a remarkable thing, perhaps especially so for someone who doesn't have any children. These guys bring such joy and life and laughter to our family. I can't wait to see the life and light of Miss Ada Jo, to watch her personality unfold, to witness a girl grow into who she was created to be. We'll teach her to sing Jesus Remember Me and the Wheels on the Bus and probably Boom Boom Pow. We'll teach her to blow kisses and give high fives. We'll probably read her The Runaway Bunny and Quick as a Cricket. We'll watch and listen as she grows into her own, honoring her unique spirit. What a privilege. 

I had a last-minute opportunity to see the play Wit on stage at the Raven Theatre in Edgewater this weekend. We sat in an intimate theatre of no more than 50, watching the story of a renowned professor of John Donne's poetry with terminal ovarian cancer – it stood in such contrast to the beautiful newness of life in Ada. Wit remains one of the most unforgettable films I've seen. My favorite scene is when her college professor visits the dying Vivian in hospital and reads her The Runaway Bunny – she calls it "an allegory of the soul." It's heartbreaking, and beautiful.

This is the stuff of real life. Celebrating the birth of Ada and hearing stories of Rwandan genocide survivors from my dad's recent travels, it puts things in perspective. It reminds me to hold everything lightly. Because this girl – well, she's just great. But the Rwandan genocide is a very real thing and the violence in my neighborhood is a very real thing. I believe we are meant to know both realities. I think we must remember, celebrate, and reach beyond our grasp to the heavens above. We have a Creator who revels with us and mourns with us –

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don't be afraid.


A small but mighty wonder

My neighborhood is coming alive. That's how I know it's spring. Sometimes it literally feels like people are pouring out into the streets. After school, there are kids everywhere – they have a tendency to "gather" right outside my building. Which is awfully neighborly of them but just a tad loud. It's what happens when you've been cooped up for 6 months straight – you get a little crazy. Ah well, most of the time I can live with it. I'm not sure they'd be too stoked if I started hollering out my window. So I just turn my music louder. 

But seriously, be praying for the city of Chicago. With warmth comes violence. On the warmest weekend of the year so far, there were 36 shootings in as many hours. Such a strange way to welcome spring. I pray for my neighbors and these broken, beloved 'hoods daily. Join me in the petition for peace.

In other news, I'm feeling a little behind on my spring veg eating. So this week I roasted and ate an entire bunch of asparagus. Last night's dinner was cold stalks of roasted asparagus with hummus and olive oil, because it was strangely 90 degrees and I needed quick, cool, and easy. We marked spring and our first meal outside – Easter dinner – with this really incredible spring salad from a favorite food blog: avocado, spinach, pea shoots, almonds, and feta, with a zesty lime yogurt dressing. I've only had it once, and it's already one of my favorite salads. Pea shoots are now on the Trader Joe's grocery list, thank you very much.

I also got to hang out with some really cool folks in some really cool neighborhoods of Chicago last week. Can I just say, there are people out there doing great work in tough places and dedicating their lives to transforming other people's lives. It's amazing. I heard stories from a psychologist at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center – I mean, wow. I walked away thinking, "She is a saint." I also learned that it costs over $200,000 per year to imprison a juvenile. This is craziness. I could not believe the stats and stories I heard. There's a whole lot of injustice in the justice system.

I'm grateful for little communities like Canaan Community Church, who is a powerful presence in Englewood. They are a small but mighty wonder.

When I think about these stories, these places, I wonder if we are expecting God to do greater things than he's done before. Or are we just eating out of our own hand, doing things on our own initiative? The great Oswald Chambers says this is a downward path. We have lost the vision.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?

If he can pour the waters from a jar and tell them where to stop, surely that same God can give us the courage to expect the same faithfulness and might, to reach for the heavens, here and now.