Summer’s Heartbeat

regard by ben seidelman on flickrOn some summer nights, it seems the world is brighter, more visible in a quiet way, as if the dusk was created for your pleasure. On some summer nights, it seems you can see through the false dome of sky to what lies beyond, air glimmering just for you.

There’s a vertiginous sense that the heavens are just about to fall, that strange unproven sense of doom we mistake for true prescience. It’s a symptom of a heart attack too—sense of impending doom—caused by a bit of agitated electricity hitchhiking from damaged unhearing tissue to a nerve that will translate its message in the language of emotion and spurred survival.

Or is doom the electrical wave of a migraine washing the shores before finding its well-traveled path, the ram’s horn arc from eye to nape, hot flicker at the jawbone and eye?

A friend and I once stood on a darkened street in summer, commiserating about how we’d find a way to bleed ourselves after menopause, apply leeches, submit to the blood donation center’s pipe-like needles. We’d just need to see it, feel it go, leaving ourselves diminished and cleansed, we both said. [Read more…]

The Case For Charlie Gard

charlie gard photo by PA Press Association on the Sun (uk)Charlie Gard, the English child you see here, will likely die—indeed, by the time this is published, he may have already died. Charlie has Mitochondrial DNA Depletion Syndrome, which in short means that through some catastrophic chain of rare events, his bodily functions are failing him. No cure has been found for this disease.

Still, Charlie’s parents want to expend every effort on their infant son. They and others have raised millions to do so through various fundraising sites. There are hospitals that have offered to take him on—a one in a million chance at a treatment in America—and the Pope and the U.S. President have offered to aid the parents’ efforts. All know that Charlie has little chance, but want to try anyhow.

But to the world’s amazement, it seems the parents are not going to be given that chance. Through some Dickensian brew of law and situational ethics, an English Hospital, Great Ormond Street, as well as judges—someone named “Mr. Justice Francis” of the “European High Court”—and politicians—London Mayor Boris Johnson, among others, get to say whether it’s time to give up on Charlie’s treatment. And they, not Charlie’s mother and father, have decreed not only that Charlie must be let die, but also that they have the authority to say so.

Somehow, it doesn’t matter how much his parents are willing to do, or how much others are willing to “waste” on a hopeless case. If it’s hopeless, resources are better spent elsewhere, the masters opine—albeit with brows knitted in distress, with grim smiles of understanding at how heartbreaking their decision is “for all concerned.” They assure us their hearts are heavy.

[Read more…]

Poetry Friday: “The Manifestation” by Richard Jones

Starlit homeI’m a poet and believer. If anyone should spend an evening gazing at a meteor shower, it should be me: dreamer, connector. Hidden under the fingernails of God.

But those Zone 5A clouds seem ever near in August, when the air thickens with cicada song. And to be honest, I’m relieved. The day’s tasks of laundry and writing and breaking up children’s fights is enough to make me collapse in bed or at least loll in front of the flickering lights of Netflix for an hour or so. Knowing it’s too cloudy or late to see the Perseids (must be on time to church!) earns me the right to be lazy of awe.

But Richard Jones’s poem, “Manifestation,” wakes me up.

The speaker insists on abiding with  “glory beyond measure,” even in the late hour and thick fog. Even at the point of despair. But it’s the last three lines I read over and over, the reminder of the mundane wonder that burns every night, at least until it’s extinguished.

Tania Runyan

“The Manifestation” by Richard Jones

The night of the Perseid shower,
thick fog descended
but I would not be denied.
I had put the children to bed,
knelt with them,
and later
in the quiet kitchen
as tall red candles
burned on the table between us,
I’d listened to my wife’s sweet imprecations,
her entreaties to see a physician.
But at the peak hour—
after she had gone to bed,
and neighboring houses
stood solemn and dark—
I felt no human obligation
and went without hope into the yard.
In the white mist
beneath the soaked and dripping trees,
I lifted my eyes
into a blind nothingness of sky
and shivered in a white robe.
I couldn’t see the outline
of the neighbor’s willows,
much less the host of streaking meteorites
no bigger than grains of sand
blazing across the sky.
I questioned the mind, my troubled thinking,
and chided myself to go in,
but looking up,
I thought of the earth
on which I stood,
my own
scanty plot of ground,
and as the lights passed unseen
I imagined glory beyond all measure.
Then I turned to the lights in the windows—
the children’s nightlights,
and my wife’s reading lamp, still burning.


Image above is by Brandon Atkinson, licensed by Creative Commons.

Richard Jones is the author of seven books of poems, including Apropos of Nothing, The Blessing, and The Correct Spelling & Exact Meaning, all from Copper Canyon Press. Editor of the literary journal Poetry East, he is a professor of English at DePaul University in Chicago.

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The Science and Sundayness of Play

This post was made possible through the support of a grant from The BioLogos Foundation’s Evolution and Christian Faith program. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of BioLogos.

The other day, I watched a Basset Hound playing with a lizard; to be more accurate, she was harassing him mightily, and he was doing his best to get away. It was one of those summertime lizards, striped and sleek, who’d ventured from beneath the cool protection of the planters that line the terrace. He’d hoped to sun himself in peace, I suppose.

But the dog, Clementine, discovered his siesta, and she was having a marvelous time picking him up by the tail and shoving him around. She barked in pretend anger, her tail wagging as she jumped from side to side. [Read more…]

The Two Lists

imageSeven-year old Isaiah found a small desk in the back of our garage and claimed it. “I want to paint it red,” he said. So we prepped it with a hand-sander, and I bought him a can of paint. Familiar with Tom Sawyer and being no fool, he recruited two of his brothers. Determined to let this be Isaiah’s project, I left them to their labor. Soon the desk was drying in the sun, and I was preoccupied with cleaning brushes along with whatever boy flesh I could lay hold of long enough to scrub it with mineral spirits.

Isaiah returned to the scene of the crime to survey his work. It was a damned atrocity. Paint ran haphazardly against the grain, tacky pools of it collected on the surface, and thick rivulets had crawled down the sides and hardened.

“Look at it,” the boy said, his arms spread wide. “It’s beautiful!” [Read more…]