Loving the Expanse

14 spring

The point of marriage is not to create a quick commonality by tearing down all boundaries; on the contrary, a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky. . . . For the more we are, the richer everything we experience is. And those who want to have a deep love in their lives must collect and save for it, and gather honey.


We: The Walking Dead


I’ve always been fascinated by the center panel of the Isenheim Altarpiece by Mathias Grünewald. Nailed to a raggedly constructed cross, the pale body of Jesus sags under its own weight. His hands are knotted. His feet are twisted. His skin is marred by small fragments of stones and twigs from his scourging. To the right of Jesus is the figure of John the Baptist anachronistically inserted into the scene. He points toward Jesus and behind him are the words: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Karl Barth had a framed print of this painting in his office. He wrote that all theology is in that single, bony finger. Read More

Diversity and Unity: Further Up and Further In


C. S. Lewis says of human nature and destiny,

“[God] makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you. … Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the divine substance.” (Problem of Pain, 151-2)


The Writer’s Life

11 Fireplace2

It’s no secret that this winter has left Midwesterners pleading for days that are either a) snow free or b) above ten degrees. So when my poets’ New Year’s party turned into a 72-hour lock-in, I wasn’t all that surprised.

Six adults and eight children gathered to toast 2014 with the finest of Aldi wine. In fact, my 2013 royalties from one of my books paid for a mid-shelf, $5.99 cabernet. We had already counted on holding our gathering overnight so we could stay up late into the evening discussing literary matters while our children slept. Read More

Passion Is Not Enough


“I see you’re a writer,” a friend messaged me. We had just reconnected via Facebook, after being out of touch for almost twenty years. She asked if I would be willing to critique a story. “Be honest,” she told me. “Don’t pull any punches.” I was honest. Her story was full of passion and longing. It dealt with family and belonging, hurting the ones we love most, forgiveness, redemption.  It was not a very good story. Read More