Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Marie and me

Last year the editor at Nature Chemistry invited me to write a commentary for the International Year of Chemistry on women in science, framed around Marie Curie (since this year is also the 100th anniversary of her Nobel prize in chemistry).

I leapt at the chance, given that Marie has been a hero since my childhood (and beyond, into widowhood). Last March I started thinking about illustrations for the essay, and dreamed up the idea of using photographs of women chemists to make up Marie's face. It took a lot of effort to get the permissions worked out (we take a moment here to say 'huzzah' for my editor, Stuart, who really made this happen). Collecting the photos was a wonder, as I asked students and friends, who asked their students and friends, until we had more than 250 photos (including one of the current director of the chemistry lab at the Institut Curie in Paris).

The editors decided to make this the cover image, and so last week, Marie and I and 269 other women graced the front of Nature Chemistry.

The essay itself, which asks if we send a message, through subtle visual and architectural clues, that women don't belong in the world of science, has been provoking some interesting conversation on Twitter and elsewhere — particularly around the color coding. Chemistry labs are primarily blue (Google it if you don't believe me), which in our culture is rather hard to read as anything other than as "for boys" (walk down the toy aisles, check out the clothing sections, peer into the ladies' room...).

You can read the essay, Sex in the Citadel of Science, at the journal — which I suspect is way better than the interview I did this morning for the Irish radio station Newstalk.

I'm in there in two photos, one in my baptismal gown in my then graduate-student-in-chemistry mother's arms and once as my current self (just above the "a" in Nature).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Autologous Dissections

What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe. — Thomas Merton

I'm jealous of Merton's ability to sum up his way of life in three lean sentences, fifteen spare words. I'm teaching a course this fall on the contemplative traditions in the West. The desert fathers and mothers, Rabia and Rumi, Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola, Thomas Merton and Madeleine Delbrel.

It means I'm teaching out of both sides of my brain this semester: a humanist in the morning, a quantum mechanic in the afternoon, and in all likelihood, a puddle on the floor by evening.

It's giving me an identity crisis. The course is framed around space: the desert, the monastic enclosure, the world. I realized this afternoon that my usual way of organizing my identity (identities?) is precisely by space and less by time. At home, I'm a writer, principally a Catholic writer. At the college, I'm a scientist. Now what I write about so often — the desert fathers, Ignatius, Merton — has leaked into my classroom. I feel a bit as if I've put my own body on the dissecting table, lecturing away as my class peels off my skin and peers at my heart and my lungs.

Sketch is from Thomas Merton's journals in Dialogues with Silence: Prayers and Drawings

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Column: Some share in the fellowship of the saints

For the record, all my sibs are saints, not the least for putting up with me as their oldest sister all these years! Photos are of The Boy, The Artiste and The Little Princess cooking one night (when there were only (!) a dozen plus one for dinner) and of the eggs for Sunday breakfast (three dozen eggs, and just about that many people).

This column appeared in the Catholic Standard & Times on 25 August 2011.

For ourselves, too, we ask some share in the fellowship of your apostles and martyrs, John the Baptist, Stephen, Barnabas, Matthias, and all the saints. - from Eucharistic Prayer IV

As my oldest son lifted high the cross in the back of the church, I began to chant the Litany of the Saints. The procession accompanying my great-uncle Norb’s body moved slowly up the aisle. Three generations of nieces and nephews were altar servers, readers, cantors, and pallbearers.

The family that gathered to pray for Uncle Norb was large. It was a challenge finding beds for thirty plus people at the farm, and feeding them tested the limits of my father’s kitchen. It seemed like there was always a pot of coffee brewing and at least one batch of dough rising for bread — sixteen loaves kneaded, baked and eaten over the week. But his family was far larger than it appeared to casual visitors.

When Fr. Ray came the morning Uncle Norb died, we prayed the Litany of the Saints, people spilling out of his tiny room into the hallway. “St. James, pray for him." I imagined those who had gone before him, likewise spilling through the gates of heaven.

"St. Phillip, pray for him.” I was comforted by the thought of all of these holy men and women praying for Uncle Norb. “St. Anthony, ora pro eo.” The family of God, gathered on both sides of heaven, prayed together.

I find challenge as well as comfort in this roll call of the saints. In “Faith of our Fathers” Eamon Duffy asks, “What do we want from the saints?” He suggests that we treasure the saints not only for their prayers for us when we are in difficulty, but also for their ability to “domesticate the holy,” helping us understand that holiness is not out of reach, but possible for us all. Saints could be our neighbors, friends, family — even perhaps ourselves.
For all that saints may walk unremarked among us, Duffy points out we should not let the ordinary aspects of a saint’s life blind us to the miraculous, to the “God of surprises who can shake our lives open” in ways we could not expect or fathom. The stories of the saints remind us to be alert to the reality of God at work among us in the everyday things, but they also tell of God for whom nothing is impossible, no situation beyond help.

When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, we ask God for some share in the fellowship of His saints. I admit that while I find it difficult to imagine any way in which my life could compare to that of St. John the Baptist or St. Monica, I can catch glimpses of saintliness in those around me. In my sister's patience with her troubled students, in my goddaughter's gift of a year to work with the poor. They give me hope that with God's grace, I too, might have a moment of heroic virtue.

It's the miraculous aspects of this prayer for sanctity that I struggle with. Am I truly willing to pray for my life to be shaken open by God, in ways that I might neither expect nor fully understand? Am I willing to let God work through me in inexplicable ways?

Yet this is precisely what we offer when we pray at each Eucharist for some share in that fellowship of saints. For the sake of the Kingdom, we agree to welcome into our lives the unexpected, the shatteringly different. I find it far easier to believe in miracles in principle, than I do to believe that I could be a part of one of God's unfathomable surprises.

What do I want from the saints? Their prayers. Their example. And from God? The courage and grace to ask for a share in that fellowship, whatever surprises that might bring.

O God, whose word burns like a fire within us, grant us a bold and faithful spirit, that in your strength we may be unafraid to speak your word and follow where you lead. Amen. – from the Opening Prayer for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I digress

francl, v. intrs., /'fran səl/ to discursively digress with minimal prompting. Usage, "Did you know that you can use purple cabbage to make an acid-base indicator?" interjected into a conversation on coleslaw.

It's cold at night in the California desert - though the daytime temperature hovered near 100o, the nights were in the low 50s. One night last week, we were sitting around the fire at my brother the Irreverent Reverend's house, roasting marshmallows (Do you know how many different types of marshmallows Campfire makes? Hint: it's more than just mini marshmallows and regular size.) Facebook Nephew wondered if we would see any meteors from the Pleides shower (without any humidity or significant light pollution, the viewing at the Reverend's is pretty amazing).

I responded (undoubtedly chirpily, but I'm taking the fifth here), "Do you have any idea how many objects the size of a minivan enter the earth's atmosphere in a year?"

From the darkness on the far side of the fire came the Boy's deep voice, "To francl, a verb. To describe in great detail. To answer questions no one has yet asked...." His monologue included a drop-dead perfect imitation of me, soon we were all laughing so hard we had tears on our faces.

His cousins and sib wondered if they could reproduce the "frindle" effect (from the book of the same name by Andrew Clements) and coin a new word. The Boy has threatened to add it to Urban Dictionary. He has high hopes; fueled by a text from a friend not present at the fire using the new word.

Update: The Irreverent Reverend has submitted "francl" to Urban Dictionary.

Bonus point: How many times did I francl in this piece? (Not counting the example in the definition!)

Come to think of it, this is why I keep another blog - it's a place to work off my urge to francl without driving my family crazy.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Feints and faints

Two verbally adept teen-aged boys confined to a small space is a learning opportunity for their mother. I took Crash and The Boy to the local hospital this morning to get some routine blood work done. This meant folding them into my Mini (putting either of them in the back seat requires facility with human origami), where they spent the 10 minute drive reading the lab order slips and suggesting what might be inflicted on the other with the merest flick of the wrist and the making of an additional check mark. I learned that they can't pronounce "progesterone" and that I should hold onto the lab slips in the future. Just in case.

The receptionist in the lobby enjoyed calling them back with a cheery, "Mr. Donnay and Mr. Donnay?" and sent them both off to the same room for the draw. I had learned some years ago that the exam rooms at the pediatrician's had grown too small to hold them both. I learned today that the same holds true for these spaces. Even though the sparring was entirely verbal, I felt like I was continually trying to referee a bout between two fully armored knights holding lances -- on horseback -- in a small castle courtyard.

The Boy was all done and waiting for the tech to release him, when Crash says, "Hey, your hair is weirdly standing on end." For sure. Because he's about to faint. They brought him apple juice and put him flat in a chair and his color gradually returned. Thankfully he pampers well. (The one time I fainted, after giving birth to Crash, I was still saying "I'm fine." as I went down.)

His Facebook status today? "Sigh...I'm a fainter." Just like his uncle, The Artiste!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A wind in the trees

How do you know you've been traveling too much? When you walk into the concourse at Denver airport's terminal C and say, "There's a pretty good sandwich shop at the end." My kids were duly amused. The Boy wanted to know just how many times I'd been in Denver recently, and I found I wasn't certain.

I will miss the pockets of silence at my dad's. Though at one point there were thirty five people sitting down to eat, and the crush in the kitchen threatened the resident Labrador retriever's tail, it was a short walk down to the edge of the pasture. The wind runs up the canyon most afternoons, sending towels and suits hung to dry on the wall near the house sailing into my late mother's rosemary patch. The rosemary on the hillside hums with busy bees, making the retrieval of items caught in its clutches a perilous undertaking.

Late one afternoon, I sought the stillness and silence of the lath house I had appropriated early in my stay. I sat on the old steps, and watched the hawks circling lazily above. I could hear the odd horse nickering in the field down the hill. The silence was so profound I could hear the gusts gathering strength at the bottom of the canyon a mile or more away. I could hear the wind hit the almond trees at the canyon's mouth, stir the live oaks in the gully below me, finally tumbling through the high barley until like a giant's breath, or perhaps the Spirit's, it burst through the open wall of my temporary hermitage. Not even the chapel in the depths of a winter's night at Wernersville is this silent, this still, this pregnant with possibility.

I've been reading Evelyn Underhill for the course I'm teaching on silent spaces this fall. She writes of St. Cuthbert, who longed for his hermitage on the river Farne, but enjoyed it rarely, and of St. Francis Xavier, who wanted a orderly life on Rome with his companion Ignatius, but found himself bound for the far side of the word on a moment's notice. She is unsympathetic. The externals of place and how it is ordered toward prayer and contemplation seem very much secondary considerations to Underhill. Prayer is simply what you do, whether in the deep silence of my hermitage, or in the press of the boarding line for the plane. Prayer may be an interior work, but it orients what is external, not so much the reverse.

In the end, I return to the Principle and Foundation, I desire not so much silence or tumult, but whatever draws me closer to God. Or so I pray.

Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better leads
To God's deepening his life in me.

David Fleming, S.J.'s paraphrase of Ignatius' Principle and Foundation.

Photo is of the lath house at sunset.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Good luck with the raisins!

Good luck with the raisins!

The funeral for Uncle Norb was yesterday at the Mission (San Miguel Arcangel - founded in 1797, still in use as a parish church). The liturgy was well celebrated. We came back to the house to eat and talk. Between sandwiches and dessert my brother the Irreverent Reverend (brother #3) excuses himself from the table and his wife responds, "Good luck with the raisins!"

It's the punch line to a story about The Artistes (brother #2 and wife) where they take their leave from a breakfast table. The story, of course, must be now be retold for the benefit of the young ones, and newcomers. Once begun, the stories flow...old ones and new.

The newest is on me. I had asked my sister to read the Prayers of the Faithful and at dinner on Thursday (29 of us?!) had given her a copy. I did remember to mark up the copies for the first and second readings (Isaiah and Romans). However, I forgot to (1) mark the Prayer of the Faithful in the Rite, and therfore, failed to show my sister its location in said book and (far more critical) (2) did not mark up her practice copy. The set of intentions I selected included options for bishops/priests, religious, and laypersons. The text for the presider was also there (and not marked as such, you just gotta know, which I do, but my sainted sister does not).

At the proper time, Sainted Sister gets up, and I suddenly remember items (1) and (2). I'm trying to gesture to her to wait for the presider (who was wonderful about gently cuing everyone involved). She gets that I'm trying to tell her something, but not what, so decides she will just plunge ahead. She does. The presider lets her go. She reads the brief introduction. All is well, intention follows intention. Suddenly I hear her say, "for our brother Norbert, bishop and priest...." Oh. No.

You can hear a pin drop in the place, but we are well trained. She says, "we pray to the Lord." We respond, "Lord, hear our prayer." I'm wincing, waiting for her to go on to the one about religious, but the presider smoothly retrieves the strands and launches into the concluding prayer.

I apologize at the end of Mass, but by now my brothers have hold of the tale (and my tail) and are lovingly describing (and embellishing) the expressions that swept across my face as this whole thing goes down.

Lord, hear my prayer.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Column: Tangling with time

Time is still all knotted up here. The peach marmalade remains a marvel -- a moment of summer held captive, a half-dozen jars of the color of the sunset sit on my dad's counter waiting for me to take them home. Uncle Norb has passed away at 93; the weekend's family BBQ party now follows a Friday funeral. I'm writing out of Lent, penance on my mind.

This column appeared in the Catholic Standard & Times on 11 August 2011.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. — Ecclesiastes 3:1

For most of this summer I have been working off the clock. Somewhere in early June I stopped wearing my watch unless I had an appointment to keep. Now it’s August and I can’t figure out where I put it.

Quarks, the tiny particles from which the universe is constructed, come in six flavors. As a scientist, time always seems less complicated to me than matter: There is only one sort of time, and it marches in a single direction. In my heart, I know this can’t possibly be true.

Time has flavors, some bitter, some sweet. Watches and clocks purport to measure it, but their fixed rhythms never seem to quite match the meter of my life. Time is not a single strand, but a loose tangle of threads. It’s August, I’m at my dad’s for a family reunion, while my mind wanders through next May to write a reflection for the feast of St. Athanasius.

St. Augustine wonders about the tangled nature of time in his Confessions. “For what is time? Who can easily and briefly explain it?” We agree on a way to count time, but are hard pressed to explain to each other how time works. We experience the present moment as a breath between past and future. God is eternal, ever-present, alive in a present that doesn’t require the past and the future to hold it in place. God holds all our time lines in His hands.

When I reflexively glance at the clock, I tie myself to human time, an agreed upon ticking away of seconds. Working on God’s time keeps me looking toward a time that doesn’t push and pull me to the next task, but takes its cues from the eternal.

Living without my watch has encouraged me to notice the many ways time tastes. This morning I stole out of the blossoming chaos at my dad’s, taking my writing to an abandoned lath house on the edge of the south pasture, hidden beneath years of weeds and spider webs. Now the wind has just begun to rustle in the feral rosebushes that shelter me, while a cold-slowed lizard that looks like it was carved from the weathered wood of the floor shuffles into the sunshine that laps at my improvised desk. The moment has the flavor of noon — time to return to the bedlam at the top of the hill.

My prayer time is off the clock this summer, too. Morning prayer comes with my first my cup of tea, whether that’s 7:30 a.m. before the gaggle of teenagers have slunk from their beds, or 11:15 on a morning that felt like I tumbled out of bed into a roller-coaster car.

I’m more attentive to God’s call to prayer where and when I am: as I help my dad lift my 93-year-old uncle out of his chair, make peach marmalade with my 9-year-old niece, or listen to my brother Gene talk about his work as principal of a local middle school. It’s a way of prayer that willingly entangles itself in the times — and needs — of others.

I’ve stopped watching my watch. In fact, I’ve stopped looking for my watch. While summer lasts, I’m just watching.

Father, yours is the morning and yours is the evening. Let the Sun of Justice, Jesus Christ, shine forever in our hearts and draw us to that light where you live in radiant glory. Amen. — Closing prayer, Evening Prayer, Tuesday Week II

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

A fox is the most excellent of company

Rule 1 of blogging - if you write it, someone you know will read it. Rule 2 of blogging - do not reveal the location of your hermitage. Your niece reads your blog, your son talks to his cousin. I have been discovered.

Despite no longer being quite so mysterious (and no one has tipped off the littlest niece and nephew yet), the lath house remains a secure refuge against the burbling chaos (though another fifteen people are due in on Wednesday evening, so who knows how long this will hold).

I'm not alone for all that the people don't seek me out. The lizards scurry under the floorboards (at least I hope they are lizards and not rattlesnakes) and bask on the pile of old wooden beams. The owl that perches on the pine tree has gone to bed for the day, but left a pellet at my doorstep so I can see how very good a hunter he is. The birds fly through the open rafters to serenade me.

Late yesterday morning, I heard what sounded like my dad's dog plunging through the brush. Imagine my surprise when I spy, not the chocolate brown arc of a labrador's tail, but a bushy red tail with a white underside waving in the weeds. It's a fox, come to curl up in the shade under the bush on the other side of my porch - eight feet away. (I'm under the ferociously thorned rose bush on the other side, which is less inviting for napping amongst its branches.)

We are agreed to ignore each other, at least until I bend over to pick up a book and startled my companion from her slumbers. She bounced (rather literally) out of her hiding spot and in a blink was at the far side of the pasture. I reached behind me to pick up my camera, and when I turned around she was gone.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Take all of you and eat

It's interim time here. All the tasks that can be done for Uncle Norb at the moment are done and we wait on the administrative wheels of the local sheriff's department to turn tomorrow. Meanwhile, everyone still needs to eat.

There are eight of us at my dad's, add in my brother and his brood from next door, my niece who is on her way from San Francisco - and that makes a baker's dozen for dinner (this will more than double by Wednesday night) The Boy and I are cooking - his famous pasta and my dad's recipe for Malverne rolls.

As my boys worked on beignets for breakfast (a treat that was put on hold yesterday morning), i started the rolls. My youngest niece appeared, wondering if she could help. I set her to measuring out the ten cups of flour (yes, ten!) into the bowl with the proofing yeast. She scoops up the first cup from the bin that holds fifty pounds, and requests the metal spoon to carefully level the flour in her measure. I asked her if she learned how to do this in Girl Scouts. "No, from The Boy."

Her little brother peers into the bin of flour and wants in on the game. His sister bestows the honor of "cups eight, nine and ten" upon him with all the gravitas of a princess offering him an earldom. He's so short I'm afraid he'll topple head first into the bin as he reaches to the bottom (we need more flour). The Little Princess shows him how to scoop and level.

The dough well begun, I turn it out onto the counter to knead by hand. My dad pulls out the large rising bowl (the one so large I can barely get my arms around it). As I turn and stretch the dough, my hands work in a rhythm learned from my father. I leave the finished dough on the counter, while I grease the bowl. I turn back to find my father's strong and sure hands on the dough giving it a few last turns, checking my work not by eye, but by feel.

In this kitchen, in this moment, my mind's eye sees my great-grandmother's (Uncle Norb's mother) kitchen, four generations moving purposefully around it, each learning from the previous, the skills and stories handed on. I can imagine the Little Princess forty years from now, my age, showing a young niece how to level the flour, and pulling a nephew feet first out of the flour bin.

Do this in memory of me.

Malverne Rolls

7 tsp yeast
4 1/2 cups of warm water
4 1/2 tsp salt
10 cups of flour

Proof the yeast in the warm water, stir in the salt. Add the flour, a cup at a time, to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Leave in a warm spot to rise. When the dough has doubled, punch it down and let it rise until doubled a second time. Turn the dough out and knead few turns. Cut the dough into 24 pieces, roll each piece into a rope about 8" in length, tie into a knot. Brush rolls with beaten egg, sprinkle liberally with poppy seeds. Let rise until the rolls double. Bake in a 375F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the rolls are brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Enjoy warm with butter.

Saturday, August 06, 2011


I knew the moment I heard the tone of my dad's voice, rising softly, "Norb?" My brother came down the hall, "Uncle Norb died." I abandoned my brewing tea on the counter. My 93 year-old great uncle, here to escape the upheaval of selling his house down south, had unexpectedly died in his sleep early this morning. His rosary was on the table next to him, tucked into his pajama pocket were two medals — St. Anthony and Padre Pio.

The priest has been here, the deputy sheriff, the funeral home. As people came and went, I sat there with him, praying the Office — for the Transfiguration, not the Office of the Dead, somehow that seemed more apt — and the rosary. As we prayed the Litany of the Saints, invoking Augustine and Ignatius (and even my friend of the moment Athanasius), I imagined the heavenly court, out there to greet him.

Now I'm exhausted — even such a gentle transition as this one seems to have been leaves us mourning and shocked. I wonder if we're tired because a part of us has departed as well, we are stretched between heaven and earth.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Hidden in plain sight

I'm at my dad's in rural California for a couple of weeks. The entire clan is gathering next weekend -- all six of us and our entourages (that's thirty some people at the dinner table, as I'm counting). For all the surrounding quiet, the house hops. The age range here at the moment is 7 to 93, and every decade in between.

Writing anything requiring sustained thought just didn't seem possible — but write I must, I have a couple of pending deadlines. Conversations swirl around me no matter where I am, which I am loathe to tune out because they involve people I love and don't see all that often. While there's lots of empty space here, most of it is pasture -- llama territory. Not a great place to sit and write, unless you find being kissed by a llama inspiring.

Then I remembered the old lath house, which used to abut the pool cum water reservoir (fire is an ever present danger out here). The pool moved to permanent digs up the hill some year ago, but the lath house remains. Wild mustard and grass fill the depression where the old above ground pool rested, the entrance is equally filled with weeds and spider webs. An abandoned set of steps has been repurposed by the local lizard population as a basking bed. Roses, barely held in check when this was a regularly used space, have grown feral, their thorns jutting out pugnaciously from canes as thick as my wrist.

I borrowed a broom from my dad (swearing him to secrecy), bundled my writing things into a furoshiki and walked down to clear a space. Leaves and dried rose petals flew, sending the lizards franctically looking for new spaces. I hauled up the old steps, brushing off the start of a hornet's nest, to make an impromptu desk and set up shop.

It is the hermitage of my dreams, even if I can only inhabit it for a couple of hours a day. Yesterday my niece and nephew and son came in search of my hiding spot. They walked past - twice - once as the little timer I set to remind me to stretch when I'm writing went off. I though I was done for, but though they peered over the fence, they failed to see me tucked into the shade -- and the roses are a real deterrent to anyone trying to make an opening in the foilage!

My nephew wondered if I had climbed up one of the pine trees at the edge of the pasture. "She doesn't climb trees," the Boy informed him. "She's just not that agile."

I beg to differ. I spent many happy and cool hours on retreat ten feet up in a weeping beech tree just a few weeks ago. I'm agile. As well as hidden in plain sight...

The lizards have decided that my occupation doesn't preclude their use of the space. I like the shade, they like the sun. When the shade goes, so do I!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Offhand comments

Crash, on the way out the door, "I wonder where the rest of it is?" I'll spare you the details, but part of the ensuing conversation involved explaining the difference between gerbils and voles. Fluffy is on the prowl.

I don't mind. Last year I got zero plums from a tree overflowing with them. The squirrels were very efficient. This year, I want at least one plum.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Entangled in time

I'm going to admit to being not quite oriented x3 (to person, place and time) these days. Time feels like a loose tangle of threads, not a smoothly running line. Just in the last week, it's been August, and I'm off to see family. It's been September, and I'm prepping a lecture for quantum chemistry. It's November and I'm writing about running the holiday rapids. It's been (last) April and I'm giving a talk on contemplative practices. It's been (next) May and I'm hearing the readings and prayers for the feast of St. Athanasius.

I cantored on Saturday for the vigil Mass. Earlier in the week I'd prepped by reading the psalm in the context of the other readings. The second reading is on my top ten list of all time, so I spent more time in that space than in the Gospel, but I did read the text, I know I did. But by Saturday, I had fast-forwarded to May, immersed in those readings for Athanasius (Acts 12:24-13:5/Psalm 67/Jn 12:44-50). I chanted the Gospel acclamation (with the correct verse), turned and faced the ambo and....was startled, nigh on shocked, to hear Matthew's story of the loaves and fishes proclaimed. I was expecting to hear John.

The struggle to place the Gospel actually let me hear the familiar words afresh. I wonder if tying myself too tightly to time with ordos and calendars stunts my ability to hear what is new and alive in words familiar and worn. Surely when I say, "I love you." to Math Man, I don't mean what I meant 20 years ago? or yesterday? or tomorrow?

Why St. Athanasius? I'm writing a reflection for this feast for Liturgical Press' Give Us This Day - first issue is today!


Crash is going to breakfast with two guy friends. "So do guys talk about their romances over breakfast?"

Crash, "Mom. Guys don't have feelings."