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Poetry Friday: “Graveyard Prayer”

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Robert Cording’s prose poem reminds me of my late Aunt Mary, who, at roughly the same age as the poem’s narrator, chose her gravesite for the sightlines it offered—in her case, a clear view of the horizon where the sun rises and where, she believed, Jesus would return on Resurrection Day. She visited regularly, each…

Pearl of Hope: Personal Shopper and the New Year

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Near the end of 2017, I rewatched Oliver Assayas’s ghost story film Personal Shopper not long after my wife asked if I had any New Year’s resolutions. It occurred to me that Personal Shopper may be an interesting film to frame the answer to that question. For all its apparent ambiguity, Personal Shopper seems clear…

The Shore after the Storm

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The sun rises over the ocean where I live, two miles from the Atlantic. You can watch it set over the bay too if you’re lucky enough, at sundown, to be on the thin barrier island that separates the mainland from the sea. The water here in the mid-Atlantic region isn’t the spectacular aqua, teal,…

The Love Song of Pepper Smith

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The day of Pepper Smith’s funeral, it was a stiff fifteen degrees—ironic weather for a boy from Gulfport, Mississippi. Pepper was my dear old friend for twenty-three years; we had traversed some odd and complicated decades and had ended up living not far from one another in the D.C. area. We talked all the time,…

A Hearth for Our Home

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A week before Christmas my husband and I hired professionals to install a wood stove in the fireplace of the 150-year-old house we just bought.  All seemed well at the initial inspection, but when they began the job they found a chimney full of rusted nails, crumbling tiles, and a funny flue. They sent a…

Poetry Friday: “The Music before the Music”

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It is often hard to find the language to describe the sounds and impact of a piece of music. In “The Music before the Music” we encounter horns that “plow and plant Beethoven’s/great fields,” “the brash cymbal,” “the wigged-out chug of a bass viol.” In this loud and layered poem, Jeanne Murray Walker uses precisely…

On Monks, Conversion, and Radio Astronomy, Part 2

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On my second day at the abbey, I bounced around, trying to listen, to feel, to be in the moment like Carmen advised. It was a tough slog. “Waste time. Waste time,” I told myself, checking my watch. At lunch with the brothers, I casually mentioned that I was in the RCIA (Rite of Christian…

Of Monks, Conversion, and Radio Astronomy, Part 1

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In the middle of life, I fell in love. For my forty-ninth birthday, my wife Lauren gave me a three-day visit by myself at a monastery in South Texas. I went there simply to read for a while and relax. I wasn’t a believer in much of anything, I wasn’t religious, and while I was…

Wrestling

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My son has always been the smallest kid in his class, often mistaken for being much younger than he actually is. But it isn’t only his size. His voice is high. He loves stuffed animals. And when given the choice at recess, he’s one of the few boys who would still rather fight dragons and…

Race Relations: A Personal History

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It is Martin Luther King Day, and I muse about how my relation to African-Americans has been shaped over the years. When I was a child, my father would sometimes take me into work with him on Saturdays. He was a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, where he ran a research lab (with…

Image’s Daily Blog

For the humanists of the Renaissance, literature mattered because it was concrete and experiential—it grounded ideas in people’s lives. Their name for this kind of writing was bonae litterae, a phrase we’ve borrowed as the title for our blog. Every weekday, one of the gifted writers on our blogging team will offer a personal essay that makes a fresh connection between the world of faith and the world of daily life, spanning the gap between theology and experience and giving language a human shape.

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