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What I Like Right Now: June Edition

Monet Garden Path at Giverny
Claude Monet, Allée dans le jardin de Giverny, 1901 | via Wikimedia Commons | public domain | not my actual garden, alas

Before I post about what I’m enjoying this month, I want to say that the suffering of immigrant families is breaking my heart. It seems that outrage over separated families is growing, and it should; but the outrage also needs to become action so that innocent children, many whose parents fled horrific situations to seek asylum in the U.S., are no longer separated from their parents without concrete plans for reunification.

Jesus made it clear that he valued children and he had harsh words for those who harm them. Christians cannot place their nationalism above the suffering of children, and so I ask you to consider taking action. Prayer is obviously important, but I have found these two resources helpful: Glennon Melton’s organization Together Rising has raised money for legal representation for these children; she also gives concrete action steps. Jennifer Hofmann’s Americans of Conscience Checklist covers much more than immigration, but she provides information about how to contact elected officials to voice concerns about a variety of issues, including immigration and specifically the separation of children from their parents at the border.

It’s easy for me at least to feel overwhelmed and discouraged, wondering what my single voice can possibly accomplish. But if I can join my voice with others, add my dollars to others, combine my prayers with others, we can accomplish much. Please join me in taking a step today towards love and justice for these children and their families.

And now, the things that are making me happy this month.

June has arrived, with green everywhere and flowers blooming and kids spending their days outside. I love this season of long days and still-cool evenings; even the rain drips cheerfully.

I’m especially loving our new house. The backyard has lush green grass perfect for running barefoot, plus a swing for hours of entertainment — and even a porch swing for the grownups. I have a climbing rose blooming pink by my front door, a clematis growing over a trellis, and a line of tomatoes in pots. So many lovely plants have put down their roots in the rich dark soil — I feel invited to do likewise.

Thinking of growing things, I’m also incredibly excited about being a first-time CSA subscriber. I’ve thought about doing CSAs for several years now but I’ve never actually taken the plunge. I picked up my first box of spring produce on Saturday — kale, green onions, micro greens, salad greens, swiss chard — and I’m so excited to see what else comes in the box over the rest of the summer.

But summer isn’t only a time for fresh veggies and smores by the fire pit. It’s also time to catch up on reading. What am I reading, you ask? Always far too much!

Non-fiction:

  • The Spirit of Life, Jürgen Moltmann: still working my way through this one. I plan to actually finish it this month, but it has already reshaped how I think about the Holy Spirit.

  • The Story of a Happy Marriage, Ann Patchett: my little brother’s awesome girlfriend (hi, Julia!) recommended Ann Patchett, and further recommended that I start with this book of essays. This was an excellent recommendation. I love Patchett’s voice in these essays, and I’m excited to read her novels now.

Fiction:

  • Three Parts Dead, Max Gladstone: I’m cheating a little, since I finished this at the end of May, but it’s the first epic fantasy novel I’ve enjoyed in a long time. It’s a book about a necromancer and a dead god and the complications that arise when gods are real but may or may not be not worthy of religious devotion, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • The Inquisitor’s Tale, Adam Gidwitz: an award-winning children’s book set in medieval France. My eldest child enjoyed it, and so am I so far; here’s hoping that it stays good and doesn’t push me into cranky academic medievalist territory!

  • Vicious, V.E. Schwab: this one is at the top of my TBR pile. I flew threw her Shades of Magic series last winter, and I’m looking forward to this one.

I have also discovered fiction podcasts. I listened to one put out by Tor publishers last summer — Steal the Stars — and loved finding radio drama for the digital age. So I when needed something to distract me while I painted and unpacked in the new house, I googled fiction podcasts and hit pay dirt.

My search turned up the show Ars Paradoxica, and this was a wonderful (and hopefully not too creepily personalized) recommendation. Ars Paradoxica is about a woman who accidentally invents time travel, and the spiraling effects of her invention. I love it so much. The show just ended after three seasons and the final episode is sitting in my podcast app; I want to know how it ends, but I’m going to miss these characters so much when it’s finally over and I can’t quite bring myself to listen yet.

Fortunately, the creative talent behind Ars Paradoxica is also behind two other shows that I’ve enjoyed, The Far Meridian and Star Tripper (the latter is a brand-new comedy). And due to a cross-over episode, I discovered The Bright Sessions, about a therapist for people with extraordinary abilities who herself has an agenda. (And other cross-over episodes and vocal talents have given me a few more to put on my to-listen list!)

I’m honestly a little surprised by how much I love these podcasts, especially since I’m not a huge fan of audiobooks. I don’t object to audiobooks — they totally count as “real” reading! — but I tend to space out and lose the narrative thread. But the dramatic aspects of the podcast seem to catch my imagination and hold my attention much better, and I’m thrilled to have found them.

In between the moving and the gardening and the books and the podcasts, I haven’t had time for movies. Not even Avengers, which is making me sad. But my husband and I are continuing our re-watch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and I am happy to report that it continues to hold up both to a rewatch and to time, since it has been over 20 years since the first season aired.

We’re also enjoying Life in Pieces, a short comedy that follows the various members of mostly functional extended family. It’s light and funny and heartwarming without being sappy, which makes it perfect for evening relaxation.

I’m loving the extra space that summer brings — space to read, to ride bikes, to sit on the deck with friends. I hope that this June brings growth and space for all of you as well, dear readers.