Saying farewell to summer flowering, looking to fruitful dormancy
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In previous years I’ve written an annual column about my garden and what it’s teaching me about life in the great wide world. Here in late autumn we see visible decline that began at summer’s peak. The sun reaches maximum height with June’s solstice and the next instant, well before July 4th, the days begin to shorten. I may be just warming to long summer days, but in my garden the plants know. Outwardly in full flower, they in their wood and leafy fibers move imperceptibly toward dormancy. They remind us that seasons—for us all—do end.
And so it is for me at WORLD. I have had an extended season of fruit and flower, writing for the magazine in its earliest days, contributing in various ways into motherhood, and continuing long after my children grew up, headed to college, and embarked on their own adult lives. From a mother of one in the womb when WORLD began to four children, I am now a grandmother of three.
Few get to claim such longevity, especially when it comes in a turbulent profession wracked with upheaval from technology, politics, and wars. I began writing for WORLD on a DOS system, my story drafts sent by fax or landline modem.
Events of recent days and even the past year and a half began to reveal my time at WORLD coming to an end. In the pandemic’s early days, I felt the light waning, that my inability to carry out planned travel to places like Syria and Sudan was prompting me to examine my stems and leaves, to think about closing one chapter to begin another.
What a fraught year of examination it has been. For those who have read my work, it’s no surprise that my framework is at times at odds with conservatism and liberalism, with the strife and stridency that’s befallen American evangelicalism, and with some directions World News Group is charting.
I have my own stridency for sure, and my own blind spots. But I also see a richly tapestried world of beauty and of need beyond U.S. shores. There the gospel is having its way in beleaguered hearts, and Christianity is on the rise—in the way it uniquely does rise, not as a conquering battle-master but as a suffering servant, reviving the faint and giving hope to the weary.
To report on that work in our recent 9/11 anniversary issue, to see the church testifying to it in Beirut following last year’s massive port explosion, and to cover rescues of Afghans from the Taliban—these all have been my privilege in a difficult season where friendships and comfortable rhythms fray in pandemic America.
I am completing projects already underway for WORLD and beginning what I hope will be a fruitful dormancy. Those of you who read Globe Trot may find it in your inbox again when it relaunches on Substack. And you can connect with me via my author website (mindybelz.com) or via social media. I hope again to step into the world’s fray—but in new ways that may include another book, a fresh lens on world events, and an occasional look at what I’m learning domestically and from the garden.
Standing at the precipice of danger time and again has come with able support from WORLD editors over the years. I am grateful to my brother-in-law Joel Belz for taking a chance on a cub writer in those early days, to Marvin Olasky for sharpening, and to Michael Reneau in these latter days. I cannot say enough about my reporter colleagues, the ablest compatriots. Jamie Dean epitomizes their courage, integrity, and steadiness. For 17 years since she joined our staff with me as her editor, she’s been a rock when other things gave way. When a bomb went off nearby, she was the person I wanted on the phone while fishing glass shards from my pocket.
The fuel to carry on through these decades isn’t found in viewpoint journalism left or right. It’s found in promises of hope beyond our circumstances. In the words sung by the Porter’s Gate: “Every weapon made for war / Every gun and every sword / Will be melted in the flame / To be used for gardening.”
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