Blessed Are the Tentmakers

For my daughter, Evangeline Sofia, who celebrated her first birthday on the second day of October.

Cozy_Fort“Can you build me a tent in the living room when you get home, Chad?” My wife Becki made this request via Google chat.

“A tent?” I replied, laughing. “In the living room? What?”

When we were children, my sister Alyssa and I built tents in our living room, draping sheets over strategically positioned chairs. But it had been years since I had roughed it indoors.

Becki had always nested, so it occurred to me that her request for a tent might not be so strange after all. When she craves comfort, she surrounds herself with pillows, blankets, boxes of Kleenexes, teacups filled with cherished Chinese teas, and copies of Vogue magazine.

She had never enlisted my help in building a nest before though. I knew male birds sometimes helped females build their nests, but—

Could she be pregnant? [Read more…]

Exercises for Lent

Health Club TreadmillsAn evangelical mutt, I have only in the past few years discovered the allure of the liturgical season, and I dabble in the traditions as my whims dictate.

This Lent, I told my husband, we shall be giving up all of our little indulgences: coffees and meals out and little snacks. That should set us up for being nice and spiritual, plus it will be hard enough that we feel it, but not so hard that we are actually tempted to despair.

But, despite all of my good intentions, I kept hearing a still small voice telling me to focus on my body, on what is happening within me, for the next forty days.

[Read more…]

Chrysalis, Catacomb, Cloud Part 1

Macha Chmakoff, At the Foot of the Cross (1990)

Guest Post
Jen Hinst-White

How did I never notice before? An ultrasound room has all the markings of a ceremonial space—a theater of mystery. The lighting is dim. You enter via ritual: undress, sit in this chair, clothe yourself in paper. The monitor is mounted so high on the wall that your eyes naturally go upward, as they would to a comet or reddening eclipse. You wait. And then you see things invisible to the human eye.

Throw in an attractive virgin and some hallucinatory vapors, and you’ve got yourself a perfect Greek oracle. But my sonographer’s name is Alison, she is dressed in cheerful scrubs, and she seems sober enough.

“This is number two?” she says.

My husband Rob sits in the corner behind me, with Charlie, our three-year-old, on his lap. [Read more…]

The Mystery Inside Me

For the past nine months, I feel like I’ve been at a standstill. A place in which I have no words, nothing to describe what is happening to me, and in me.

In six weeks, I am due to give birth to my first child, a son, and although I have had flashes of deep joy and extreme fear (often occurring in the same day), what has marked my life as an expectant mother the most is this sense of complete, undeniable uncertainty. For the first time in my life, I have no idea what to expect; I have no game plan, no hook of events upon which to hang doubts and anticipations.

All I know is that this little boy, whose feet twist into my ribs even as I write, is coming.

Labels have always been a source of comfort for me. As a child, I collected the flimsy certificates that teachers handed out at the end of the school year, the ones that said Top Achiever, Super Star, Best in the Class. When I moved onto my college campus, I introduced myself to classmates with a vigorous wave and the following words: “Hi, my name is Allison, and I want to be a high school teacher.” [Read more…]

Seeking and Sought by God

I did not enter a church until I was in third grade. My friend Vicky, who always wore long jean skirts and seemed to be liked by everybody, invited me to a Sunday school competition where she would be quizzed on Bible verses.

I remember dirt-colored shag carpet, wooden pews, a crowd of stern-looking women gathered around a microphone, their khaki skirts brushing their Keds. I remember Vicky standing beside them, unsure of how to phrase the lines of Psalm 23—was it a rod? A staff?

And I remember running up to the microphone myself, eager to talk, completely clueless about the Psalm. “It’s rod! It’s rod!” I said, unaware that my jeans and my loud voice were twisting the women’s frowns into tighter knots.

“That is incorrect,” one said. “Please sit down.” [Read more…]