What I Learned in the City about Life

007The other day, Brent and I drove into the big city. We went to Chicago to see the folks at Moody Publishers because we had never been and we wanted to thank the team that worked on the book.

Now, I don’t go to the city much. I live in a little neighborhood across from a great big corn field and I only have to drive a few miles before I’m in the middle of grape vineyards and apple orchards and strawberry fields and a big ole view full of sky.

So, as we entered Chicago, I was struck by the strange beauty of all those grey skyscrapers huddled up together and the impressive labyrinth of overpasses and roads. Everywhere, there were just so many people. I looked over and noticed these two men in bright orange vests way up high on the roof of one of the buildings and in my heart, I grasped the preciousness of human life, even though people can seem so very small and insignificant.


I wondered if this is what King David, in the Bible, had felt when he gazed up at the stars and whispered up to God,

I look up at Your macro-skies, dark and enormous,
    Your handmade sky-jewelry,
Moon and stars mounted in their settings.
    Then I look at my micro-self and wonder,
Why do you bother with us?
    Why take a second look our way? (Psalm 8:4-8, The Message)


At one point, on a particularly busy stretch of road, Brent and I noticed that the lanes had narrowed and the pace had slowed and we grew agitated because up ahead, there was this big semi, at a dead stop, taking up the whole left lane and everyone was having to squeeze around him. But, then as we slowly drove past, I looked behind us and noticed that he had pulled over to block traffic for a guy who had a flat tire.

I probably sound ridiculous but I was so happy in that moment and I even cried a little. Because sometimes I lose a little faith in humanity and here we were entering into a place with so many busy people and I got to be witness to someone’s tender care and concern for another human’s life. It hit me again–that profound sense that human life is just so exceedingly precious.

So, we made it to Moody and it was so good to see the faces behind the emails and get to look people in their shiny eyes and tell them how much their work meant to us. And how much it blessed us that they showed up at that office where they publish books and treated us so well.


We got to eat lunch with the team, all of us chowing down on pork burritos and chips and salsa as we sat in the conference room, one whole wall full of books. And as we sat together, they all went around and told me their job description and I asked if while they were at it, they could tell me something they really loved. It was such a gift to get to learn about who they were and not just what they did.

There was Duane who has a boy named Caleb that he likes to read to every night. And Duane, he changes his voice to match the characters. But, his boy notices and hollers it out if his Daddy accidentally uses that same voice twice. One thing I kept noticing about Duane was his eyes. There was all this story behind his eyes and they held the deepest kindness.

And there was Brittany who aches to be a momma. But, not just any momma. She wants to adopt. It’s not that she can’t have kids of her own, because most likely she can. They’ve just never tried. Her and her husband very much want to rescue some kids that are already out there somewhere in the world, who really need someone to take them in and love them for always.

And there was Richard, the artist. He loves light and the way light has this profound effect on everything. “If the light changes,” he said, “it feels like the whole landscape changes. The sky is a darker hue. The fields and hills become a different color.” Those are the sorts of things he likes to paint. He chuckled to tell us how his wife keeps wondering why he doesn’t paint people on the canvas. It’s not that he doesn’t like painting people, it’s just that he’s so in love with all the land.

I could go on and on about all the other beautiful people in that room.


As we drove back home, I thought about each person sitting in those cubicles behind those desks. Sometimes authors can get big heads. They can start thinking that publishers are just there to get the author’s message out and make their name great. All of us, in our pride, can start treating people like they’re some sort of servant of ours, or worse, we might even treat them like dirt.

But, this is not okay. We must never forget that each person has a soul and human life is precious. Just so exceedingly precious.

So, we take time to thank the artists and the mommas and the builders and the dreamers who work along beside us. We look them in their shiny eyes and listen to what they love.

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