Fever

By Dyana Herron

4074609498_a8fdf21388_mWhen well, it’s easy to forget how utterly miserable it feels to have a fever.

In fact, the moment the fever breaks, already the memory recedes—we may feel exhausted, wiped out, laid low, but also relieved, no longer at war with our own body. Even if we try to remember, can intellectually recall and describe what it is like, the immediate feeling is gone, and so is our most intimate experiential knowledge. [Read more...]

Monasticism in Lockdown America, Part 6: Icons

prisonThe jail staff asked if I would meet with some of the guys in the infirmary.

I sat down at the small, bare table in a cramped lawyer visitation cell, and three men in red scrubs squeezed by each other to take their seats with me. One of them was Hank, an old man with a scraggly white beard stained yellow around his mouth, gray and white hair hanging over his sagging face.

The long beard and long white hair reminded me of an abbot I know at a Russian Orthodox monastery I visit a few hours away, on a rainy, evergreen island, an abbot I am very fond of. But this man, Hank, stumbled into his seat at the table to my right. His pale and bare chest was exposed by the ratty red XXL V neck he was issued. He swore at the guard over his shoulder as she slammed shut the heavy door to our cell. [Read more...]

The Healing Art: Doctors Prescribing Poems

healingartMy hematologist, who has monitored my leukemia for the past ten years, copied me into an email he sent to his colleagues. It was the poem “Beannacht” by Irish poet John O’Donohue, which begins:

On the day when
The weight deadens
On your shoulders
And you stumble,
May the clay dance
To balance you.

And when your eyes
Freeze behind
The gray window
And the ghost of loss
Gets in to you,
May a flock of colors,
Indigo, red, green
And azure blue,
Come to awaken in you
A meadow of delight.

What a grace to have a doctor who would send this around to his colleagues. This is what I want in all my doctors: human beings in touch with the full range of human emotions. People who respond to poetry. [Read more...]

The Tenth Leper

512px-ChristCleansing (1)Guest post by Kelly Foster

If you grow up in the South, you learn to write thank-you notes. You write thank-you notes for kind gifts. You write thank-you notes for kind words. You write thank-you notes for kind thank-you notes people send to you.

It’s a vicious circle of gratitude, but I suppose there are worse circles to be caught up in, and plenty that don’t provide one with an excuse to keep a ready supply of handmade stationery in reserve. So it goes.

[Read more...]

Monasticism In Lockdown America, Part 5: Holy Elders

blackwell'sjailportraitWith their white beards and deep lines in their faces, the older men stand out in our jail Bible study’s circle of usually-young men with either tattoos on the outsides of their arms or track marks on the insides. I’m always struck by the old men’s humility, how they don’t tell the whippersnappers to shut up. They listen. There is a sorrow about them.

Take Merle. He’s only in his late fifties, but his questions speak to this sorrow. Someone had prayed for his left leg’s chronic pain in our group Bible study, and not only did the pain go away and stay away, but the healing grew deeper into his heart. Two weeks later he glowed in his red scrubs, trying to describe to us in the circle how he’d begun praying in his cell, how he felt different.

[Read more...]


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