During the winter of 2014, I was 18 and doing the same thing every other college student was: scrambling for a summer internship. Unlike most other college students, I didn’t have a lot of options. Editing internships for English majors in NYC are lovely, except for when they’re unpaid and super competitive.
Dear readers, writers, and friends:
Many of you know that Relief Journal is in the process of transition. I’m here to give an official update on the situation. After a number of years of service, Brad Fruhauff felt it was the right time to step down as Editor-in-Chief of Relief. I will be taking over in that role, and transitioning Relief’s operations to Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. This will enable the journal to benefit from an unprecedented level of structural support while retaining in full its editorial autonomy and unique spirit.
My daughter has been reading each night from The Meditations, the journal Marcus Aurelius kept as he commanded the largest army the Roman empire had ever assembled on its frontier. For a decade, he wrote with disciplined regularity as battles raged and as the plague that would one day bear his family name, The Antonine, destroyed the lives of citizens and barbarians alike—2,000 each day at the height of the epidemic. By 180 A.D., five million people had been killed, including Aurelius himself.
Early in our week together at The Glen in Santa Fe my new friend Page shared his love of thin places with our class in Carolyn Forche’s poetry workshop. Thin places are light houses, sea shores, wooded paths, parks or buildings that strike us as transcendent, or as Eric Weiner says, “those rare locales where the distance between heaven and Earth collapses”. Page visits them often and captures them in his art, and his favorite is the sea shore before daybreak. I share an appreciation for those minutes of the day when the dawn irrupts on the dark. I spend them on the edge of a wetland near my home. And now thanks to Carolyn and my other new friends in the class, I know that these hours are named, in the language of early monastics, the Matins, which refers to the nighttime liturgy that ends at dawn.
“U2 is what church should be”; so read a line in Time Magazine when I was 13, a line that confirmed my fledgling belief in U2. I certainly felt elated and worshipful listening to The Joshua Tree, though I wasn’t entirely sure it was right to feel that way. This was just after The Joshua Tree had broken U2 worldwide enough to reach rural Minnesota, and just as the album and film Rattle and Hum, according to most critics, showed they had feet of clay.