All Who Enter Here

When I was younger I came to this plot of land for years—almost 25 in a row—roaming the grassy shoreline, rowing around lily pads and tree stumps poking through the pond water, and running sweaty laps up and down Forshee Road. As an adolescent, I bloomed in the sensual soil of this place. I thrived during weeks like this one now, when I was the child vacationing here with my parents, brothers, and sisters. Year by year, we formed a kind of family liturgy, a joyful way of being together that transcended the reality of the modest little cabin and weedy pond.

What Light There Is

I have become, in the past few years, a seeker of the light. Now that it doesn’t pour over my shoulders each day, unasked and abundant, I’ve learned to keep an eye out for it. I can’t make it appear, but I still crave it, and I am learning to watch for—and appreciate—what light there is. 

Testing Siri

What I love the most about Siri is if I make a mistake—a wrong turn, for example—she doesn’t tell me. She just finds a new path for me without saying, “re-calculating.” Sometimes, I’d make a mistake on purpose, just to see if Siri could find me and figure out what to do with me next. She always did. Only a few times has she told me to, “proceed to the route,” and I do, wondering only for a moment if her robotic female tone sounds mildly snarky and exhausted with me.

A Map of the Heavens in Four Poems

It lies on its side, that large, bell-cupped vessel. With the seraph-scrolled handle meant. For comfort’s grip, meant to hold tea and warmth. It is nearly empty and very cold now, rolling on its curve.

In the other room, I can hear him thrashing. I ignore the sounds, the moaning, finally, the silence. In my chair, I read a magazine, anything to delay. The vault into that high bed with the pillow top.

Meeting Barbara

Romero was blooming last year the week I moved to Pittsburgh. I was intrigued, but busy unpacking and settling in. This year when an email from Phipps announced, “They’re coming to SNIFF you, Barbara,” I decided to go. It was an excuse to run away from home.

Permission to be a Beginner

Taking this pottery class was giving that back to me. I was a beginner again. I wasdoing it simply because it brought me joy. Sitting at the pottery wheel was giving me freedom and space. I’d sit and work the clay, and my mind was at rest. The wheel would spin and the clay would slide through my hands, and I could feel myself relax. It was quiet. I needed that.

Vernal Equinox

Three daybreaks in a row, I spot a long-necked snowy egret, a thing I’ve rarely seen on Ocracoke during crowded summers. I will see a fourth and a fifth before this week is out. I’m cycling on the sound side of this windy barrier island, 20–25 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina. I’m here in late winter, in time for the run up to Vernal Equinox and to learn from the elegant waterfowl and her windswept empty beaches how to be and think and pray afresh—how to work and play in an uncluttered, unfettered manner.

Wild Wonder: Embodying Faith through Creation Care Camp

At camp, we sing, “All your works are good. From everlasting to everlasting, all your works are good.” We live in that in-between-time, where all things are not yet made right. But when we plant a seed in the ground or prepare a feast for thirty campers or delight at the soft touch of a newborn lamb, we are partaking in the heavenly Kingdom. The plant, the bread, the created life of the little lamb—from everlasting to everlasting, ALL of these things are good. 

My Days with Charismatic Megafauna

Not only will I help you pack this elk out, I will tan the hide to show you how much I care. My parents showed me a healthy marriage takes patience, compassion, and humility. I missed the part about applying those values to a good match. In my mind, Chris’s love of the outdoors was enough glue to link our mismatched hearts. We couldn’t have been more different. Why did I marry him?

A Shimmer of Possibility

I remember which bookcase it was on, where it was on the shelf, what the light was like. Maybe I opened it to a sentence that might as well have been in neon, a passage I admired for its construction and loved for its truth. I've kept the book all these years and reread it, or at least part of it, a few times (evidenced by the geological strata of marginal notes). And for decades I’ve kept a little sign on my desk with one of her sentences, printed in a font that now seems to scream 1990s: “Work is the backbone of a properly conducted life, serving at once to give it shape and hold it up.” 

Lessons from Dogs

A wise friend once told me that there is always some element of sacrifice involved to help something or someone else flourish. And in those painful moments reckoning what was happening with the dog that we loved, I realized that blessing creation, both human and non-human alike, might not be what you expect and usually comes at a cost.