Compassion and joy

Compassion and joy

One of the themes of the past couple of weeks has been WATER. We had about 16” of snow here in Three Rivers, followed by a big melt and lots of rain, leading to record flooding in our community. With downtown built on high ground, our home is safe, but our hearts hurt for our neighbors whose homes and businesses have been damaged.

Though several major roads are still closed, life has gone on mostly as usual in other ways. Rob went to a couple of meet-and-greets yesterday—one to welcome our new public library director, and one to discuss issues with our state representative, who periodically holds “office hours” at the local coffee shop. Issues we’re paying attention to right now are fair elections and safety in public places after the school shooting in Florida—another reason to grieve with our neighbors and reflect on our role in building the kind of world we want our child, and all children, to grow up in.

There’s a line in one of our favorite poems by Wendell Berry that we tend to think of in times like these: “Be joyful, though you’ve considered all the facts.” Rob and I feel that it’s very important to practice compassion—which we think of as suffering with those who suffer—and we hope to raise a compassionate child, one who reaches out to the lonely kid on the playground. And we know that in order to sustain compassion, we all need to play and spend time doing what gives us joy. So here are some of the things that have given us great joy in the past couple of weeks:

  • Seeing the Black Panther movie in the theatre…twice!
  • Tasting and voting at A Chocolate Affair, the annual chocolate bake off at the fair trade store we help run. Our friends Jean and Deborah took the lead on this event this year as I try to cut back my volunteer commitments and they did a great job!
  • Driving up to Grand Rapids for dinner with friends and a concert with Birds of Chicago and Valerie June.
  • A mid-winter warm-up that allowed me to walk the grounds at work and do some more planning for landscaping and trails around the large ponds that we installed last year.
  • A gathering that our friend Becca organized for local farmers to share ideas for the coming growing season.
  • Joining our neighbors at the bookstore across the street from our house to hear a talk about George Washington Carver.

In all of these activities and more, we continue to think about the ways our child will experience and learn from our community. It gives us great joy to think about raising our kiddo in a rich environment with diverse experiences of art and nature, with friends of various ages and colors and backgrounds. While we nurture our hopes for the future, we work to build that world in the present, for our family and for all of our neighbors.

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