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The Doubt that Breathes Beside You

By Stina Kielsmeier-Cook Essay

1. We are late to church and sneak along the outer edge of the sanctuary, the pine floors creaking under our careful steps. I slide into the pew next to my husband. My leg brushes against him, this man I love, a man who recently lost faith in God. I scan the bulletin and try…

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Roman Charity

By Tracy Brimhall Essay

THE LAST TIME YOU SAW your mother alive, she helped you heal from your C-section. It wasn’t what you planned, with your careful study of the benefits of natural childbirth, your doula, your pelvic carriage the midwife called beautiful. Your own mother’s births had been natural, her milk abundant. She always said that being a mother…

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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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Something Understood

By Michelle Syba Essay

MY MOTHER’S FIRST PRAYER was by phone, with a call-center employee from a Toronto Christian TV show. My mother was at a difficult moment in her life—health not good, family on another continent, a small child in her sole care. When she saw the show’s smiling, boyish host, she decided that he was an idiot and,…

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The Rosary

By Ann Conway Essay

I SOMETIMES CARRY a rosary these days, a Spanish one of wooden beads that a friend gave to me. I used to think that it reflected the same impulse as needlework, which I do inexpertly—a desire for the consolation of repetition. Now I consider it a spiritual discipline, as I try, in middle age, to…

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I Tell My Mother Lies

By Daniel Taylor Essay

I TELL MY mother lies. Sometimes three or four times a day. I lie mostly about money. That I’ve sent it or that I’m just about to send it. Or that surely I will send it tomorrow. My mother waits for money like the bums waited for Godot. One day she called seventeen times. So…

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This Is My Body

By Suzanne M. Wolfe Essay

I HAVE A BLACK AND WHITE photograph taken in 1967 that I found among my grandmother’s things after she died. In the foreground, my grandmother sits on a blanket, smiling self-consciously for the camera. To her left my brother stands in a seven-year-old boy’s macho pose with hands on hips, his smooth, hairless chest thrust…

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Lament

By Allison Backous Essay

How I would like to believe in tenderness— —Sylvia Plath, “The Moon and the Yew Tree”   HOLY SEPULCHRE Mausoleum and Cemetery sits in a fenced green block on Ridgeland and 111th Street, five minutes south of my apartment. I pass that corner at least once a week, and when I pass it, I pass…

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Into Deep Waters

By Laura Bramon Good Essay

ONE SUMMER at the lake house, I forgot my swimming suit and found one of my grandmother’s—an old, plastic mold of a suit, perhaps unworn for twenty years—hanging like a replica of her younger body in the upstairs cedar closet. The suit smelled green and sweet, like the lake. When I pulled it onto my…

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Our Last Suppers

By Nicole Sheets Essay

I’VE NEVER GIVEN myself an enema in front of anyone,” Christy says. We have arrived at a new stage in our friendship. And technically she’s not giving herself an enema in front of me. She readies what looks like a baster for a small turkey, and then I sit in the anteroom, next to the…

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