Two Observations From The Great Wall

I have been savoring a couple things from my experience on the Great Wall.

I’ll keep it short and sweet.

First: the reality of the timeliness of the past is so huge. Here, as we walked, we continued the erosion on these steps that many millions of feet have touched. All of those lives, those hopes and dreams and desires and mistakes and glories… we got to step into a past that no longer is yet “didn’t go anywhere” (to quote Utah Phillips).

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Second: the awareness of the present is a calibrator of deep meaning. In spite of my awe at the Wall, at being in China, of adopting, and of doing many other incredible things, I think my most cherished thing from being on the Great Wall was carrying Miranda up it and back down it. We talked about it today. We will continue to. It’s something much bigger to me now than I could have realized. But I was on top of it as it happened, realizing the importance with each step. I expect it will be one of the greatest memories of my life, and I love that it came so close to CaiQun joining our family.

Doesn’t get much more epic than this.

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It’s hard traveling with a 2 year old

I was going to do a big reflection about our time up on the Great Wall today, but the day has been extremely long and we travel to CaiQun’s province early tomorrow… All that and Miranda has had a rough time of it. Fevers and jet lag and no appetite and not understanding what’s going on and going from high excitement to a breakdown in moments… In ways I feel like we’re torturing her. I do think she’s enjoying a lot of this – see the pics below – singing on the bus, such a trooper on the Great Wall, etc. but there has also been the complete exhaustion, both physically and emotionally for her, as you can see. It’s hard to see her sad. But we will make it through. My post on the Great Wall will wait for another day.

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Local Variations

It’s always good to try out the local variations…

Below: A big Beijing brewery’s main beer and a version of Lays potato chips I’ve never seen… “Italian Red Meat Flavor”

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These came from my first foray out into the neighborhood around our hotel. More pictures later. I promise they’ll be more culturally significant.

Over The Top Of The World

One of my little nerd-joys of this trip to China was the fact that we took a polar route, taking us past Magnetic North and relatively close to true North. Here are some screen shots of our flight path.

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And any trip is better with Wes Anderson… I watched Moonrise Kingdom (as well as Argo andBeasts of the Southern Wild) on this flight.

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Good times. More to come…

Silence Before China

It has been a while since I last posted. A lot has happened. Very soon we’ll actually be in the midst of a global journey that we’ve been imagining, thinking about, planning, and scheduling for over a year. In just hours we’ll slip out over the Midwestern landscape, drop in for a short stop in Michigan (yet another reason for me to love that state), and leap over the North Pole to China.

And then, just days from now, a daughter of China will also be a daughter of mine.

That’s the thought that has given me pause for weeks. That’s why I’ve had nothing to say. I’ve got nothing to add, nothing with which to editorialize this experience. It’s beyond me. It’s far beyond what I ever imagined for my life.

And yet, it’s very similar to the feeling I had in the days and hours before Miranda was born. You sense great change coming. You feel the air charging with energy. You feel the presence of massive forces converging. But you, yourself, are too limited to gain true perspective on it all. With deer-in-the-headlights-eyes you move forward, doing what you’ve made plans to do, pivoting as well as you can, and adapting in whatever ways you have to.

That’s where I am. I’m scheduling substitute teachers for my classes. I’m putting a hold on the mail. I’m in a freaking airplane cruising 30,000 feet over the arctic. I’m a pale foreigner from a young country standing in an ancient, hallowed land. I’m a fat, long-haired guy trying to help my little dark-eyed daughters understand love. I’m an experienced seer observing things – real things, true things, transcendent things – for the first time. I’m a man born in the year of the dragon standing on the Great Wall. I’m a husband in awe of his wife’s ability to actually make this stuff a reality. I’m a recipient of an Epic Grace that I can’t even begin to understand or appreciate properly.

Just days from now, a daughter of China will also be a daughter of mine. She’ll be a sister to Miranda, a child to Alison, and a grand-kid to Nancy and Kathy.

She’ll be one of us. She is already one of us. She has always been one of us.

I can’t wait to see you, Madeleine CaiQun.