Music Review: Brittany Howard, Jaime

In late September, Brittany Howard released her first solo album and embarked on a two-month international tour. The album, Jaime, takes its name from the older sister who taught Howard to play the piano and who died of cancer as a teenager. A short half-hour and eleven tracks long, Jaime artfully unfolds its maker’s history: her loves, perspective, anxieties and wounds.  To work on this … Continue reading Music Review: Brittany Howard, Jaime

Looking into Schedules: Thoughts on Time, Self-Gift, and the Joy of Boundaries

In Rockford, Illinois, a faded, yellow-brick ranch house sits between a large wood and the helicopter pad at the Emergency Unit of Saint Anthony Medical Center. The house, which boasts more paintings and statues of saints than pieces of furniture, serves as a convent for the three Franciscan sisters who work at Saint Anthony’s—one of whom is my biological sister.  While visiting recently, my parents … Continue reading Looking into Schedules: Thoughts on Time, Self-Gift, and the Joy of Boundaries

Things Below: Thoughts on the World and Literature, Part One of Two

When on July 15, 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson addressed the graduating class of Harvard Divinity School, he didn’t open his remarks as one would expect, by quoting a passage of scripture.  The young men to whom he spoke were, after all, seminarians who had spent their time at Harvard studying the Bible and preparing for a career in the ministry.  We’d assume that the speaker … Continue reading Things Below: Thoughts on the World and Literature, Part One of Two

 Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads: Keeping Poetry Honest

“Fair is foul and foul is fair,” sing the witches in Macbeth as they toss toads and newts and thumbs into the pot to make “double, double, toil and trouble.” Despite the appearance of sorcery, they do not supernaturally bewitch Macbeth. All they do is speak. Macbeth destroys himself of his own free will. It’s a subtle boast from Shakespeare: by giving the witches the … Continue reading  Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads: Keeping Poetry Honest

“Milestones of Earth Residence”: On Poetry of Place

When I drive home from Hillsdale, I turn the radio to 93.9 as I pass Ann Arbor. It’s just close enough for the signal to come through, and for the rest of the way back to Detroit, I listen to the sound of my teenage years and my college summer commutes. Broadcasting from across the river, the Canadian station plays alt-rock hits until they wear … Continue reading “Milestones of Earth Residence”: On Poetry of Place

Christ the Gardener: Reflections on a Summer in Turkey

“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” … Continue reading Christ the Gardener: Reflections on a Summer in Turkey

Le Point Vierge: The Problem of Pilgrimage

“Przszedłeś jako ciekawy turysta, odchodź jako bogaty pielgrzym”     This inscription can be found on a plain wooden post at the base of the mountain Giewont in Zakopane, Poland. It glares at the traveler as he walks down the winding dirt path to the small hut that once served as the hermitage of Brother Albert Chmielowski. As one whose knowledge of the Polish language consists of … Continue reading Le Point Vierge: The Problem of Pilgrimage