Where We Walk

Where we walk I just got back from a morning walk under skies, far from home, that are threatening a thunderstorm, in just enough wind to feel fully awakened (completing what coffee had failed quite to accomplish). Layers of birdsong—more than I’m used to hearing in our more urban habitat—surrounded us like a thicket of [Read More…]

We’ll pass it on to you

We’ll pass it on to you . . . These words, from the musical Hamilton, are a father’s promise to a new child: “We’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you . . . .” The song is a pledge full of hope and, for contemporary audiences, full of dramatic irony. [Read More…]

Love in the Open Hand

Love in the open hand I remember discovering Edna St. Vincent Millay in high school, reading sonnet after sonnet with the thrill of discovery that comes when you find a poet who speaks what you hadn’t realized you felt or wanted or dreaded or hoped. It was the tender, tentative season of first boyfriends and [Read More…]

A Way of Knowing

A Way of Knowing I’ve been reading an engaging book on “Faith, Hospitality, and Foreign Language Teaching” by David Smith and Barbara Carvill called The Gift of the Stranger. Among the authors’ many inspiring ways of linking language learning to the ethic of hospitality was this: that hospitality is a way of knowing. Not just [Read More…]

Like Pollen or Manna

Like pollen or manna This phrase, “like pollen or manna,” tossed off in Ellen Bass’s strong, startling poem, “Saturn’s Rings,” stopped me short: I love the story of manna in the desert—such a strange and haunting image of God’s imaginative provision. It has remained since childhood one of my favorite Bible stories. Asked one time [Read More…]

Going About our Business

Going about our business “For us, there is only the trying,” Eliot writes in “East Coker,” speaking as a poet who has no way of assessing the success or failure of his work: “The rest is not our business.” His sober reminder has been helpful for me and, I imagine, has helped others who have [Read More…]

Animals for their Innocence

Their humble little souls Two beautiful boys I love learned last night that their beloved dog, Miles, has advanced lymphoma and will die soon. Their parents who love him, too, had to tell them. It’s how many children learn their first lessons about loss—if they’re lucky children, and don’t live in war zones or places [Read More…]

For This We Came

Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his I spent a delightful couple of hours the other day watching a grandson compete in a gymnastics tournament. The grace and discipline he and others exhibited in tumbling and vaulting, front and back flips, and in an intricately choreographed final dance were not only impressive, but moving. I [Read More…]

Living by Words

by every word Ever since I first heard it in Sunday school I’ve been stirred by the mysterious declaration in Deuteronomy that we do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. In ancient Hebrew the word for word was dabar, which meant thing. Utterance brings forth [Read More…]

Being Prepared

be prepared You never know what you’re being prepared for. I don’t remember where I first heard or learned this, but I’ve repeated it to myself and others many times because it helps me take a long view of the moment’s difficulties or upsets or reversals or opportunities. Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget [Read More…]