Monday, March 9, 2009

Perspective of Redbuds

The Texas redbuds are blooming. We've got three of these trees in our backyard, and they happily summon spring as the wispy branches pop with bright purple blooms. The first year in our home, we had no idea what to expect of our backyard. We moved in during the drought-laden summer months and enjoyed the deep greenery and heavenly shade of magnolias and oaks, unaware of the brief, teasing redbud blooms that would appear come spring. The view through my kitchen window bursts with the tree blooms for a few happy weeks each February and March, the new growth dotting the view with color and my heart with expectation of new hope.
So the redbuds are blooming not only in our backyard, but all over town. With her keen appreciation for all things beautiful, Basden points out each blossoming tree we pass on car drives and bike rides. She delights in the purple and magenta beauties that beckon her attention at the park, in neighbors' yards, and along the bike trail.
So a couple of nights ago Corbin and I took a bus tour through Fort Worth. Tarrant Net hosted their annual fundraiser, but this year instead of a country club dinner, we loaded six chartered buses and toured the city, specifically low-income neighborhoods targeted by the ministry's outreach events. We cruised the shoddy and history-packed east Fort Worth streets while local pastors acting as tour guides described points of interest - parks, colleges, and churches that beckoned tens of thousands of neighbors to Hopefests and Back to School Extravaganzas and Celebrate Christmas events.
Those on our bus who had spent time in the parks and schools and neighborhoods reminisced about their experiences - crowds of thousands with dental hygienists cleaning teeth, nurses administering shots and providing check-ups, volunteers handing out school supplies and bags of groceries, all accompanied by prayers covering both the people and their neighborhoods.
Our caravan continued through north Fort Worth, pulling back the curtain of oblivion and revealing poverty-striken neighborhoods just a few miles from our own homes. By ironic intention or simple practicality of the most direct route, the drivers then took us south on University Drive and through Six Points, arguably one of the city's most affluent shopping and dining hotspots.
The expedition through unfamiliar neighborhoods in Fort Worth felt both uncomfortable and invigorating as people stood on their front porches and yards and sidewalks, watching with bemused and surprised and curious faces as our police-escorted caravan of six enormous charted buses filed past. Most waved enthusiastically at our entourage, and I found myself waving back to each observer as our eyes met. Interesting, I would have expected a sensation like this while sight-seeing in Mexico or India or even parts of Europe. But in our own city?!
The high vantage point from our tour bus allowed for a full view of these homes and their backyards. Some yards were tidy and well cared for despite impoverished conditions, and many were not. I noticed along our tour the bright blooms of redbuds peeking out from backyards masquerading as junk yards, between crumbling driveways and rotting carports, and behind chain link fences and sun-faded plastic slides.
We passed one home with three young children jumping and waving and cheering at our procession. On the wooden deck behind the little ones, their sweet mommy waved her arms, hands reaching to the sky, an enormous grin filling her face. I saw her shining eyes from thirty yards away. Despite her wheelchair, she nearly bounced up and down in her seat, laughing alongside her jubilant children. And beyond that precious mommy and those three little ones and their ram-shackled home, a tall Texas redbud swayed in the Saturday evening breeze, its magenta blooms bursting with color and hope.