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Strange Pilgrims

By Gregory Wolfe Essay

IN HIS his masterful book The Life You Save May Be Your Own (reviewed in this issue), Paul Elie has crafted a braided narrative about the lives and works of four twentieth-century American Catholic writers, all of whom have become canonical figures: Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Flannery O’Connor, and Walker Percy. The first sentence of…

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I Used to Light Candles for You

By Joanna Solfrian Poetry

for E.J.K. I used to light candles for you (after your death had been catalogued in the secret book) in every cathedral I passed, most in small public squares. Cold stone, incense, the tall silence, the hush and seal of the door at the threshold. Though not a Catholic, I made the sign of the…

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Symphony in Yellow: A Young Girl Reading

By Lise Goett Poetry

after Fragonard When the first crocuses, the ones called golden crowns and the ones called midnights, push up through February’s mausoleum ground, I think of Fragonard, his patrons dead, the Terror over, the stays of his golden swing now cut. And I am tempted to lie down, even though the ground is cold, and listen…

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Taking the Byzantine Path to Monastiri Aghiou Ioannou

By Margaret Gibson Poetry

You let your feet decide how to walk it, andante or andantino— only allow your breathing to become what wind is in the eucalyptus, now a susurrus, now a slow erasure of distractions. Cries from the soccer field and the street noise in Skala dissolve in the attention the stones require you give each footfall.…

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Before Entering

By Jeanine Hathaway Poetry

—five—six—seven—eight, and one— The dancers drum onstage from the wings where they were before the downbeat, that prehistoric moment, bandaged and flinching, calloused, split, grinning—the tick-swish of soles on bare wood; their presence shifts how light leaps off the watch of the ex-nun’s date. Such sound bodies. Their backs, extraordinary overlaps of muscle bound to…

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Echo

By Jeanine Hathaway Poetry

The sexton lives in a big stone house. After supper he unlocks his church for a fee. Our tour group pays to climb past organ and choirloft, into the belfry where the daring grip a sheep-skinned knot and pull the rope straight down into a scene from the novitiate when I was in love with…

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The Underground Life of Prayer

By Fred Bahnson Essay

The following is excerpted from Soil and Sacrament: A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith by Fred Bahnson, forthcoming from Simon & Schuster, Inc. The book tells the story of the author’s series of pilgrimages to communities that integrate religious practice, love for place, and the production of food, including Pentecostal coffee roasters in Washington…

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Deus ex Machina

By Claude Wilkinson Poetry

Many days into any kind of drought, whether lost faith or drying riverbed, god from machine seems the only way out. While the ospreys and quick kingfishers scout for their food in prayer, waiting to be led, many days into any kind of drought begins to weaken resolve and feed doubt, so that birds scoop…

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