“The subtlest change in New York is something people don’t speak much about but that is in everyone’s mind. The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers, cremate the millions. The intimation of mortality is part of New York now: in the sound of jets overhead, in the black headlines of the latest edition…

This race — this race between the destroying planes and the struggling Parliament of Man — it stcks in all our heads. The city at last perfectly illustrates both the universal dilemma and the general solution, this riddle in steel and stone is at once the perfect target and the perfect demonstration of nonviolence, of racial brotherhood, this lofty target scraping the skies and meeting the destroying planes halfway, home of all people and all nations, capital of everything, housing the deliberations by which the planes are to be stayed and their errand forestalled.”

From Here is New York, by E.B. White, 1949.

A little over two months ago I visted the site of the World Trade Center attakcs and was surprisingly moved. The attacks happened my senior year in high school when my world was much smaller and the scenes unfolding on screen seemed to me as distant as a foreign war or a historical battle. I was aware of the tragedy, but it affected me as a distant observer. While 9/11 no doubt changed the world I lived in for the past ten years as part of the landscape of our collective memories, it had never moved me the way it did when I stood at the site of the attacks and ongoing reconstruction.

Perhaps the site itsef comferred upon me some residual terror, like radiation left in the ground years after a nuclear spill, but at least part of the chill came from the brute antithetical nature of the attack. Planes are supposed to carry people to their families, business meetings, vacations, honeymoons. Planes are not supposed to crash into buildings and kill people.

When I returned from New York this summer, I picked up Here is New York, E.B. White’s account of life in New York City at the end of the 1940s. His essay is a quaint and observant picture of a city he obviously loved. Yet as I read the above selections from the last pages of the book, I was startled by the almost prophetic look at a rising city in a violent world. It was eerie, uncanny, unsettling in its relevance. In White’s world, planes were used to decimate cities, and he sensed the precarious position of urban New York, which he deemed a sort of ‘capital of the world.’

As I walked around Church St. in lower Manhattan this summer, the impression that kept coming to mind as I imagined witnessing the attacks from below was how the shadow of the planes as they raced towards the towers must have passed over pedestrians on the sidewalks. We are now still in the shadow of 9/11, as our nation is at war, terror is immanent, and families continue to grieve the loss of the victims’ lives. This world is not as it should be, and 9/11 demonstrated that as we experienced a sort of collective loss of inocence.

Our only hope is true reconstruction: a day is coming when the world will be made new, 9/11 will be forgotten as a shadow passes along the landscape and is gone, and planes will only carry people from place to place in safety. Come Lord Jesus, come.


Reflecting on Granada

Katie here, ready to tell you a bit about Granada, the Reason for our entire trip.
While we were there, the Wills were gracious hosts. I went to women’s bible study and Joshua went to the men’s, we went out for tapas often with the missionaries to get to know them. We went to a mission meeting, helped distibute food in the community, helped clean the new church building before the first service there, and cooked Morrocan beef and couscous for 40 for the post church meal. We were happy to serve in such unexpected ways while we were there.

We were so blessed by the missionaries who took time our of their busy schedules to meet with us. They shared the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the Mission candidly. They imparted their personal joys and struggles and most of all their vision.

They recently planted a church that latin American immigrants flock to. We also met many North African, and gypsy folks in the neighboorhood. We talked to some Moroccan women for a half an hour about cooking and the food we had made.

Here are some pictures:

Welcome back, Mr. Kotter

Well, I think we survived but it’s hard to tell. We did indeed arrive safely in St. Louis last week and realized that my early spring optimism/financial anxiety had set us up for a summer storm. We got back from europe Tuesday night, I started back at Hebrew class on wednesday, started back at work on Thursday, moved on Saturday, and my folks came in on Monday, which was also our two year anniversary. A week of long days washing windows in st Louis heat and humidity has left me exhausted. At least Spain made it to the world cup final.

Once we settle in I’ll post some thoughts on our trip and try to post some pictures. Thanks for reading, thanks to those who helped us move, thanks to the lady who tipped us $40 on Monday, thanks to my folks for visiting, and thanks to Katie for two years of marriage.

’till later.


Couscous and beef

Making dinner for after church tonight

Te presento Barcelona

Last week we arrived in Barcelona and had just three days to spend getting to know the city and the people working there. We had the great privilege of meeting our friends Xavi Memba, Steve Phillips, and Ruben Pocull (not pictured). Xavi and Ruben are working together to plant a church in an up and coming neighborhood of Barcelona. Steve is pastoring a church in Vilasar just outside of Barcelona.

We were also able to meet with David Barcelo, who is pastor of a church plant near San Andreu, and his wife.

Barcelona is a creative and eclectic city. Gaudi’s design and the modernismo style are everywhere. Our favorite part was meeting with the pastors and hanging out with the Christians there. Hopefully next time we will be able to visit Xavi and Ruben’s church plant!

Aix en Provence

Paris feels like home

Having spent a total of 15 days here the year I lived in France, I finally felt comfortable, knew where we were going, what we were doing and most of all I could speak the native language, which, I felt, upgraded me from american tourist to visitor. There is a distinct improvement in pleasant interaction with locals. We spent only a day and a half here but enjoyed breakfast and Lunch in the the Latin Quarter, then the Tuileries, the Arc de triomphe, and ham and cheese crepes under the Eiffel. Would you believe across the river there was a huge screen playing the World cup
With the Eiffel tower just behind. It was awesome!

Today we went to Sacre Coeur basilica, we caught the end of the service and heard the Sisters singing in the choir, just beautiful. Joshua also bought me a small gift. A musicbox that plays the Waltz of Amelie from my favorite movie, which was also my wedding march. I still get teary eyed when I hear it.
We are now off to Aix en Provence to stay at our friend Yannicks place, though we are sad he’s in the states and we can’t see him!
Missing you all,