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My Two Beautiful Daughters

St. Augustine once said, “Hope has
two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger
at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain
the way they are.”

I think sometimes that he must be describing my own daughters.

Madeleine’s name means Tower of
Light, and she does indeed shine a merciless light on those dark
crevices we’d sometimes prefer to forget about. She asks hard
questions, and has a strong sense of righteous anger and social
justice. At age six, she gets passionate about environmental
stewardship and helping others less fortunate.

Cora’s name means Heart of a Strong Warrior, or Courageous.
Enough said, right? My youngest is indeed fearless, walking into a
new situation simply assuming everyone will like her – and
indeed, she’s always right. If she sees a wrong she’ll
wade right in and try to fix it.

I think sometimes that my girls were built to be complementary
instruments of God. Maddie battles fears every day – fear of
a new situation, fear of monsters, fear of fire drills, the list
can easily become quite long – and overcomes them by sheer
force of will. But when someone else is wronged she will charge
right in, her fears forgotten as her righteous indignation on
someone else’s behalf propels her along. I think of the
numerous times she’s stood up to bullies on the playground
for someone else, or the many instances she’s come to me and
said, “Mom, I got a treat at school today. Could you find a
treat for Cora to have so it’d be fair? It doesn’t seem
fair for her that I had some candy and she didn’t.”

And then there’s Cora – happy in almost any
circumstance until a problem’s pointed out, and then she
matter-of-factly marches in to deal with it. She may not recognize
an injustice, but once it’s been described to her she
won’t rest until it’s been dealt with. I think about
how, when Cora was three years old, she gave her dollhouse to our
local homeless shelter. She wanted the dollhouse to go to a little
girl who didn’t have one, and Cora walked over to the adult
in charge, gave it to her with a short explanation, and was so
happy with how she’d solved a stranger’s problem
– a life without a toy – that she spontaneously hugged
the case worker. Later, the parent of the little girl who received
the dollhouse wrote Cora a note and I read it out loud to my girl,
describing how a two-year-old had just gotten her first toy. Ever.
And how the girl’s face lit up, and how she couldn’t
stop playing with it, even to eat. And Cora smiled this big grin
and nodded and said, “Yep, that’s what I was hoping
would happen. That worked out really good.” She changed
something – as a three-year-old.

Maddie will see a problem – say, the trash in our
neighborhood. She’ll become indignant, describe it to Cora,
and get Cora on board. Then Cora will go to all her friends and
say, “Listen, guys, we need to pick up trash as we walk
around our neighborhood. If God’s people don’t take
care of the earth, it could die!” And then she’ll pick
up trash. Or run after you if you throw something out the window as
you drive past her, then collapse in sobs when she can’t
catch you.

Separately, my girls are wonders to behold, girls with a lot of
strength. Together, they’re nearly unstoppable. A formidable
foe, indeed, to injustice.

My two beautiful daughters.


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