You, Josiah Jacob Brown, were born at 2:17 on a Saturday morning as the hot wind blew off of the Chihuahua desert, and in the distance lightning was visible. You entered the world in a Mexican hospital, surrounded by doctors and nurses speaking Spanish. In the delivery room we had bachata music playing; that bouncy caribbean dance music that your parents fell in love to. Outside, the city and most of America was asleep, except for a few new aunts and grandmothers waiting for news of you. It was a week that had made many of us weary with bad news. Eid season was marred by terrible bombings throughout the Middle East. In America frustration bubbled over as two unjust killings of black men by police were followed by the equally unjust killing of five police officers. In the midst of this weariness we, and so many others, anticipated your arrival. It was a happy and wonderful thing to celebrate during times that are not easy. You came into the world shouting, like you had a lot to say and couldn’t wait to get started. You looked at us with inquisitive blue eyes, as if to ask us (in the words of a fictional President with whom you share a name) “what’s next?”
We have so much to tell and show you. People who live all over the world already love you, and are waiting to meet you. There’s a dog at home who is excited to play with you (eventually). Your earliest memories will be set to a sound track that plays in English, Spanish, Arabic, and maybe more. We will show you sunrises and sunsets in many timezones. You will eat incredible meals. You’ll explore cities, deserts, jungles, and prairies, and get to know the people and animals who live there. You will know love and friendship that transcends difference. There’s so much beauty to experience, and we could not be happier to help you get started.
Yes, this world is beautiful, but it would be dishonest to tell you that it is not also broken. You will learn that much is not as it should be. Indeed, there are days when it all seems to be coming apart at the seams. Ignorance, selfishness, hatred, cruelty, destruction and hopelessness are things that you do not yet know about, and they are far too common in our world. We humans destroy this beautiful world and the people who live in it with reckless abandon.
So why are we here, son? Why do we continue? We do so because Jesus told us to. He told us that we are the salt of the earth, which I used to think sounded a little bit strange. How are people like salt? Well, as you’ll learn when we teach you how to cook, salt does two very important things. First, it keeps things from going rotten. Meat can last for a very long time and continue to be good food as long as it is packed in salt. Likewise, the good things in our world can last and survive and thrive, as long as we (the salt) stick to it and engage with it.
The other job that salt does is to awaken flavor. Tasty things are made tastier with a little bit of salt. That is what we are to do in this world. Create beauty, and enhance and amplify that which is already here. Make it taste better.
You, son, have been named for a king who lived a very long time ago, during tough times (read about him in 2 Chronicles 34 & 35). The kings who came before him had made a big mess of things, and those who came after him didn’t do much better. But King Josiah chose to do what was right, to lead his country in a way that would make things better.
Our prayer for you, son, is that you, like your namesake, would be one who makes the world better. That you would be the saltiest of salt, preserving and enhancing all that you touch. Doing what is right, even when it’s difficult. When the world comes apart at the seams we hope that you don’t run for shelter, but that you join in the work of stitching up those raggedy edges through the way that you choose to love, and the things that you do and create, in big ways and small.
Welcome to life. We love you more than we ever thought possible.
Your Dad and Mom