And the Truth to Speak

lady-justice

I was surprised to find a sheriff’s deputy on the doorstep when I answered his knocking. I was even more surprised at the language on the subpoena. Under the header it read: “=&0=&” for an opening salutation. It sounded like a good way to start an Epistle, but a strange way to address me about a summons to traffic court. Read More

The Fifty Year Sword

fiftyyearsword

In Mark Z. Danielweski’s novella The Fifty Year Sword, a recently-divorced seamstress named Chintana attends a 50th birthday party for her husband’s mistress, Belinda Kite. A storyteller at the party tells Chintana and several orphans the story of his epic quest for a mysterious weapon, the Fifty Year Sword. The invisible sword cuts every victim just like a non-magical sword, but with one catch; the wounds inflicted by the blade don’t manifest themselves until the victim turns fifty years old. Belinda Kite, in a bid to prove to the frightened children that the story is hogwash, slashes herself repeatedly with the sword. Later that night, as she and her guests toast her 50th birthday, Belinda falls apart piece by piece, a victim of her bravado and the Fifty Year Sword. Read More

Why Didn’t I See It the First Time?

12-years-a-slave-2013-003-row-of-slaves-in-cotton-shed_1000x750

The first time—in fact the first two times—I watched 12 Years a Slave in preparation for my annual lecture on the Academy award nominees for best picture, I really saw nothing about the faith of the slaves in the picture. But in fact, in one crucial scene near the end of the movie, Solomon Northup, the main character in the movie, has a “conversion” of sorts, when he is at the funeral of a fellow slave. While the slaves are singing “Roll, Jordan, Roll”, Northup is so despondent and has faced so many disappointments in his attempts to get free that he at first is silent, clearly refusing to sing. But the words seem to work on him, and eventually he joins in, tentatively at first but in the end with great gusto. In addition, at several other times in the film, the slaves sing spirituals while working in the fields. Read More

Light Makes It Beautiful

Empire state Building, midtown Manhattan, New York City

I stood on the sidewalk in front of the Empire State Building. It was evening and traffic was light. My friends and I, high school seniors, were heading into the Riverboat Room to hear jazz great, Maynard Ferguson. They opened the doors, and I stopped a minute to feel the presence of the 102-story building. I knew I’d remember this night, but I didn’t know I’d soon walk away from cultural offerings like this. Read More

The Forced Pause, the Gift of Rest

Winter Weather

I walked to the grocery store in hopes of finding a power outlet to charge my laptop. Or better: a rogue bit of Wi-Fi that might allow me to e-mail my editor and assure her that, despite the 18 inches of snow being dumped onto our small town, I would be making my deadline. It was not a peaceful walk, the sort you’d expect as snow slowly pillowed on the ground and the entire world went quiet. Read More