Category Archives: General

Porch Sitting and Raphah

I grew up watching my neighbor Hoyt watch the world go by. After Hoyt had retired from the cotton mill, he sat on his porch — a lot. I’m not saying he did nothing, because he also had a large … Continue reading

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Gospel Joy

Far north off England’s east coast, near Scotland, is Holy Island, known as “Lindisfarne” at first millennium’s close. Its vibrant monastery could only be reached from the mainland at low tide, by a path of mud and sand flats, famously … Continue reading

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Amazing Gray-ce

Stranded high on a cracking vinyl cushion, I tried not to blink, eyes filling with regret. I’d picked the pixie cut after browsing waiting-room Glamour magazines, but watching six inches of my dark locks lopped off, I thought, Mistake, and … Continue reading

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Ann Ulanov: The Modern Julian of Norwich?

Soon after publishing my translation of that medieval book on prayer, The Cloud of Unknowing, I crash-landed in a counselor’s office. I had become a jittery, work-driven insomniac whose old ways of coping had failed. I was living fifteen-hour writing … Continue reading

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Coffee Cans and Christ

I had worked there three months without even so much as tapping it once. I had, however, eyed, admired, analyzed, wondered at, and resisted it. Scholarship-enabled, I was an anxiety-ridden sophomore at a private college high up on a leafy … Continue reading

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The Lesson of the Tree

Often I find myself sitting across from a student in my office as the conversation moves from gerunds and infinitives, deadlines and revisions, applications and careers, to family difficulties and personal worries. I pray a lot then. If a student’s … Continue reading

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Bursting Pipes, Overflowing Hearts

The low, dull roar of an industrial fan in concert with the higher-pitched hum of the wet-dry vac in my office drew my heart’s easily preoccupied ear to God’s ever underlying, eloquent silence and had me contemplating the power of … Continue reading

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The Cradle of the New Year

Strong lungs gave loud cries that opened my sky and started tears I couldn’t control; this joy’s never-before-ness soaked my cheeks. I wanted to see the new person my husband was holding but had to wait for him to bring … Continue reading

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The Still, Small Voice

My bottom was already numb, and my skinny shoulder blades ached against the hard wooden pew where weekly as a child I sat obediently a few rows back on the left-hand side of the church with my family. Mostly I … Continue reading

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Broadcasting Community

The bouquet of shiny red and blue stars jostled each other for position against the car’s soft tan ceiling. The squeak of plastic rubbing plastic made me think about the community that can be nourished by the simple act of … Continue reading

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Tasting Salt

The student pulled the frayed bill of his dark gray baseball cap over his eyebrows and slumped further down on the brown sofa in my office. He had been late again with a paper and came in with the multiple … Continue reading

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The Soil of Humility, the Flower of Tenderheartedness

I was watching our seven-year-old son who had been playing a long time, rolling Matchbox cars across “roads” in the den rug’s intricate patterns and blowing car noises through his lips. When I said, “You’re so handsome,” he stopped, looked … Continue reading

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Squire George and the Sacra Pagina

Under the alias “Squire George,” a bearded knight rode from Wartburg Castle and its safety, heading northeast to Wittenberg to check on the Reformation’s progress.1 Bold, high-stakes scenarios were not unusual for this sixteenth-century Christian; however, less well-known is that … Continue reading

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Much Discussed, Much Debated, but Seldom Eaten

I was born with a hole in my heart. It tired me out more quickly than my friends on playgrounds and regularly sent me to Egleston Hospital on Atlanta’s Emory University campus to have an EKG’s cold electrodes attached to … Continue reading

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Strawberries, a ‘Cloud,’ and Giving Peace a Chance

I went strawberry-picking with a friend the other day. The afternoon sun was welcome after so many weeks of cold, wet weather, and when it got too warm, a good breeze blew coolness through the rows of low-growing green plants … Continue reading

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Cows and Scripture

This semester I assigned my students a half-day Facebook fast and essay analyzing the experience. Most said Facebook was hard-to-impossible to do without — they schedule extracurricular activities with it, keep up with friends, and, yes, occupy boring hours. They … Continue reading

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Embracing Cracks and Loving the Process

Across campus, singing birds pull out all the stops, and students read in hammocks strung between trees; so spring approaches: “Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!” as Elizabethan playwright Thomas Nashe wrote 400 years ago. Spring has always been popular and much … Continue reading

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Wise Words from Some of Christ’s Good Friends

May these wise words shine on our wintry souls, frozen by loneliness and hurt, and thaw us. This invocation opens Following Christ: A Lenten Reader to Stretch Your Soul, and the “wise words” it contains are life-giving writings of Christ’s … Continue reading

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Ambulatory*

I go for a walk almost every day, so when I can’t or don’t, I start feeling stiff in the joints . . . of my soul. Walking helps mend my monkey mind, or what I dub “squirrel skull” after … Continue reading

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The Baby of Love

This week, I got to spend time with a two-month-young baby. At lunch with her parents, I asked and was handed her like a gift and got to walk around with her to the oohs and aahs of the restaurant … Continue reading

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