"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

27 April 2011

UPDATE: Surgery Date Set

Davina's surgery is scheduled for 5 May. Thank you for the many, many responses and we appreciate your prayers so much.

26 April 2011

Prayer Request

I have posted before about our older daughter's difficulties with an angioma: a cluster of blood vessels in the brain that bleed occasionally and, in her case, cause seizures. She has had some grand mal seizures in the past year, and today she saw a neurosurgeon who strongly recommended that she have surgery to remove the angioma. It has enlarged and has been bleeding inside itself, causing the greater pressure on the brain tissue that brings on the seizures. The more times this happens, the higher the chance that the angioma will hemorrhage.

Brain surgery is a serious and frightening thing. Davina's angioma is located in the motor skills part of her brain which affects the left side of her body. Surgery could cause a loss of strength on that side of the body, and of course there are many possible side effects. We would so appreciate prayers as she finalizes this decision.

If you are interested in knowing more about angiomas, the Angioma Alliance site is very helpful.


24 April 2011

Christ is Risen Indeed!

St. John of Chrysostom’s Paschal sermon (4th century):

"If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefore. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

"And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast you all of it, sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

"Enjoy, all of you, the feast of faith: Receive the riches of loving-kindness, and let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions.

"It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

"O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory?

"Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen."

Found at Scott Cairns’ lovely description of Holy Week as celebrated in the Eastern Orthodox church.

17 April 2011

Christendom Review: Volume 3 Issue 1

The newest issue of The Christendom Review is up; read and enjoy! Poetry, essays, fiction, visual art . . . something for everyone.

13 April 2011


Last night I slept badly. As I pulled out of the driveway in a foul mood, having told K that he needed to pray for me to find a reason to care about anything, I was greeted by the morning star shining above a pastel-tinged horizon.

Of course. That's why I care.

(photo changed to one K actually took this morning)

09 April 2011


I have been approved for a sabbatical for Spring 2012, an opportunity to spend concentrated time writing. Here’s what I wrote for the application to describe my goal for the time:

My intention [for the sabbatical] is to complete a book-length collection of familiar essays. For many years I have explored this genre: reading, studying, and teaching it; creating bits and pieces, starts and half-finished attempts. I have published a few reviews that fall to some degree within this genre, but would like to revisit some of these to make them less “reviews” and more “essays.” Since 2005, I have written nearly 400 posts at my personal weblog, well over half of which are actually beginnings and drafts of full-length familiar essays which need only development for breadth and depth to be complete. My recent discovery of G. Douglas Atkins’ work in the familiar essay genre reminded me yet again of its value and potential and of how I long to become adept in its achievement. Atkins in particular notes how the familiar essay can transcend the merely personal and earthly, how it can become incarnational in nature, ultimately suggesting to its readers the reality of the Incarnation itself. Whether I have the ability to do this, I don’t yet know . . . but I believe the trying – the essaying – is in itself work of value, both as it changes and challenges the writer and as it offers thoughtful considerations for the reader.

The topics on which I write are widely varied, but all circle back to themes of seeking what it means to live well, day by day, moment by moment, in this fallen world. Because I am a writer and a teacher of writing and literature, my essays often arise from and address works of literature and reflections on the writing life, as well as concerns about education and the lives of young men and women struggling in an increasingly chaotic and relativistic world. Because I am a woman and therefore a daughter and sister, a wife, mother, and grandmother, my essays also often derive from these roles and relationships, as well as from the sharpening iron of friendships forged over the years. Inevitably, my sufferings and trials underlie my writing choices and perspectives as I seek joy and hope in their midst. Since the familiar essay uses the particulars of the writer’s life to connect with, comment on, and illuminate the universality of human experience, this personal approach places my work solidly within that genre. I wish to bring these varied subjects and perspectives together under the concept of reflected light: as the moon has no light of its own but only reflects the light of the sun as their separate positions dictate, we should strive not to create our own light but to reflect the light of Christ in all we do and are.

I plan to spend this summer and fall gleaning from the work I’ve started those idea drafts that look best suited for this project, beginning to organize them, and starting the reading that I’d like to do alongside the writing. It’s an exciting and scary prospect, certainly, and I’m anticipating learning as much (or more) about myself as about anything else.