Congo Journal 9

Babies, Blossoms and Blessings

When friends and acquaintances ask Bill or my kids how I’m doing, they say, “Lynne’s doing great!  She’s got her ‘causes’—and she’s more committed and active than ever.  And she’s got Henry and Mac—and she loves every minute she gets to hang out with them!”  It’s true.  For me, this is the best era of life so far.  I am energized by the juxtaposition of “engaging deeply with the needs of a broken world” and “enjoying the simple pleasures of a baby’s laugh or a game of tag with a five-year-old.” 

Recently I’ve added something new to the simple pleasures side of things.  I schedule regular visits to my local florist—an Iranian woman who fills her little shop with white peonies and deep pink lilies and peach-colored roses and spring green bells of Ireland.  Yesterday I visited her to get flowers to arrange for an event Bill and I hosted at our house last night: a dedication party for our two grandsons and for our niece’s two daughters.   I don’t know why I didn’t manage to get a decent photo of the “ceremony”—perhaps because there was too much wiggling and too little light.  But you get the idea.  Four young parents.  Two five-year-olds—Henry Todd Niequist and Marley Grace Martinez.  Fifteen-month-old Harper Lynne Martinez and eight-month-old William MacIntyre Niequist (Mac).

It was a profound and lovely evening.  Family and friends committing ourselves to these two young families that we love.  (And later, filling the dishwasher with plates and forks and scooping mountains of crumbs up from the green carpet.) 

But back to the flowers.  I am in awe of the beauty of flowers; my soul is filled by the color and form of these living gems.  My friendly florist knows this, and knows that I often visit her before or after a challenging trip, when I need to be comforted or healed or lifted by beauty.  Yesterday while I pulled blossoms from the bins in her cooler, I thought about the Congo.  And while she wrapped my chosen
treasures—white and fragrant in honor of the innocent young lives we were celebrating last night—I told her about Congo. 

I told her about the horror of conflict and the trauma of rape, but also about the lushness of the landscape and the riot of color in the locally made fabrics. I told her that in a place like Congo you see the worst of humanity—and the best. 

In a little over an hour my boys will come to spend the afternoon.  Henry and I will play ten games of Sorry or pretend we know how to play Battleship, while Mac will gnaw on red and green and yellow teething toys and climb and fall and bump his head on every hard surface in the house.  We’ll have a ball. 

And then this evening, after they head home and go to bed, I’ll start packing for Congo.  Malaria pills?  Check.  Sunscreen?  Check.  Black slacks?  Check.  Hand washable and quick drying tunic tops?  Check.  A heart filled and grateful for the beautiful blessings of my life?  Check. Check. Check.  Check.  Check.