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Chest Percussions

By Amye Day Ong Essay

LURLENE MCDANIEL KEPT ME COMPANY in the hospital. Her young adult novels—which included Six Months to Live, I Want to Live, So Much to Live For, I’ll Be Seeing You, A Season for Goodbye, Sixteen and Dying, and Someone Dies, Someone Lives—featured stories of teenage love for the terminally ill. I was not terminally ill,…

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Tidal Wave

By Valerie Sayers Short Story

IN THE EARLY DAYS OF INTEGRATION, when only white girls tried out for cheerleader, our elections were a cross between small-town participatory democracy, Soviet-style anointment of the chosen, and the Miss America Pageant. We sat rapt in the bleachers while the candidates cartwheeled in front of the whole school, flashing their white panties. Then we…

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Bent Body, Lamb

By Molly McCully Brown Essay

THE LAST TIME I TELL ANYONE I don’t believe in God is the summer before ninth grade. My mother and I are lying in my parents’ bed, still awake at three a.m. This is how we spend almost every night that July, because it is a hundred degrees even in the dark, and the casts on…

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Finding Our Names

By Leslie Leyland Fields Essay

Fathers and teachers, I ponder, “What is hell?” I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love. —Dostoyevsky How did I get so lucky to have my heart awakened to others and their suffering? —Pema Chödrön WHEN MY FATHER DIES, I may not know about it for days. The people at his…

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The Burden of Bliss

By Lindsey Crittenden Essay

The following excerpt is from The Water Will Hold You: A Skeptic Learns to Pray, published this spring by Harmony Books, a division of Random House. © 2007 by Lindsey Crittenden. THE SUN was relentless, unrepentant, glaring through the side window of my little Honda as it lurched through commuter-clotted Friday traffic. It was a…

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Faith, Hope, Charity

By Margaret Gibson Essay

AMMA IS COMING to live in Richmond,” Mom announced one night at the dinner table. Elizabeth and I looked at each other quickly. Which of us would have to give up her bedroom? Immediately I began constructing an argument in my mind, listing the reasons why Elizabeth’s room would be more suitable for Amma—it was farther…

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The Kingdom of the Eternal Heaven

By Paula Huston Essay

WE ARE ROCKETING through the steppes into the eye of the setting sun. To the east of us, the great thrusting shoulders of the Tian Shan, or “Celestial Mountains,” are burnished with the deep rose gold you see on icons from the Sinai or tanka paintings from Nepal. According to local lore, deep within the…

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Boy in a Blue Sweatshirt

By Jessie Van Eerden Essay

I RECALL THE FACE OF A BOY wearing a blue sweatshirt, and I want to tell him that I’ve fallen in love and that I saw a fox midday like a flare, that I saw a black bear in the laurel just this evening and that the roar of life is in me. And I…

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Psyche, Soul, and Muse

By Kathleen Norris Essay

The following is an excerpt from a new book of creative nonfiction, Acedia and Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life, published this fall by Riverhead Books. ALDOUS HUXLEY’S “Accidie” begins with a look at the desert monks and their depiction of the daemon meridianus, or noonday demon, as a “fiend of deadly subtlety,…

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Born, Again and Again

By Pattiann Rogers Essay

I GREW UP NEAR A SMALL RIVER in southwest Missouri, really a large creek, an easily navigable waterway with a calm current, deep in places, in others flowing with low white ruffles over rocky shoals. I went to this river often, as if to a favorite relative, to see what was happening, wading and swimming…

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