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Rounding the Curtain: Embracing the Senselessness of Grief


I entered the hospital room. She was sitting in a geri-chair looking out the window. The room was stark white with no flowers or cards. The only punctuation to the white was her robe of pink hearts. I introduced myself as the chaplain on the floor. “That’s nice,” she replied. “It’s snowing.” I pulled up a chair, faced the window, and observed her as she watched the snow’s... Read More

When Helpers Get Sick: Making Meaning after Secondary Trauma

FILE - In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 file photo, parts of Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp, are seen from a helicopter in northern Kenya. Security officials in Kenya say attackers ambushed a convoy of aid workers Friday, June 29, 2012 at Dadaab near the Somali border and kidnapped international and Kenyan workers. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

Secondary traumatic stress disorder: the emotional duress that results from firsthand exposure to the trauma experiences of another. People with secondary trauma have symptoms that mimic those of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); those symptoms include intrusion, hyperarousal, and avoidance.   I. Intrusion: the inability to keep memories of the event from returning.   I... Read More

Some Holy Ghost

Art Institute

Stooped behind a smooth pedestal bearing a great stone censer outside the Art Institute of Chicago, I finish my phone conversation shielded from the city’s famous wind. A former classmate and I have been arranging to meet during this writing conference. As excited as I am to be in a new place, to meet new people, to see old friends, and to sell my book of poems to the literary... Read More

The Sermon on the Plain

The Sermon on the Plain - Essay by D. L. Mayfield

The girl is wearing a tie-dyed shirt, comfortable jeans, her curly brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. Perched on a stool next to the calf in his pen, she is telling us how to get a cow to give birth at the Minnesota State Fair. It takes careful planning, especially if you plan to do it year after year. Here, in this barn, this girl is a star. Here, in this barn, we are witnesses... Read More

North and South


We say we cultivate the land. Perhaps it’s truer to say the land cultivates us. The land—her contours, curved or flat; her foliage, lush or sparse; her soil, flinty or rich; the air she walks in, warm like wool or crisp like clean cotton—shapes us. It forms our customs and food, our bodies and voices, our beliefs and postures. Our ways emerge from the ways of the land. The... Read More

Holden Village Journal


Sunday We are on the boat, our family, barreling north into a sea of granite peaks. Before us spreads the gleaming surface of Lake Chelan, a fifty-one-mile gash cutting deep into the Cascade Mountains. To our right, the eastern foothills flow by, sun-browned in the August heat. They lie hulking like knuckles on a fist. In my lap a sudden movement. Samuel, my son of two months, raises... Read More

Reclaiming Christian Marriage: What the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Needs to Learn from the Southern Baptists


On June 19, 2014, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to allow their pastors to perform “same-gender marriages in civil jurisdictions where such marriages are legal.”[1] As expected, this has caused no small hubbub among American Christians. While gay rights advocates and Christians on the left have lauded this progressive decision and praised the denomination for changing... Read More

No Sea in Heaven


I grew up in a mile-square beachfront town sixty miles south of New York City. From the time I was six years old, when my family left its North Jersey urban roots, every summer day was spent on the beach. When my sister and I were old enough, we peddled there on our bikes to meet our friends, then slathered ourselves with Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil and baked, posed, and floated... Read More

Wanderlust: A Personal History


Who doesn’t know what I’m talking about? Who’s never left home, who’s never struck out? —Dixie Chicks   I am sixteen, sitting in Bible class at my small private high school. The teacher thinks—at least, I hope she thinks—that I’m following along in the book. In reality, I’m a rebel. I’ve nestled a paperback behind the cover of our text. While she lectures,... Read More

Los Angeles

Catalina Island, La Romana, Dominican Republic. A cruise liner i

My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call. —Pat Conroy, Prince of Tides   There is a spot on the downslope of Colima Road in Hacienda Heights, in southern California, where, if conditions conspire for clear air—which they rarely do—you can see the sharp, low-slung outline of Catalina Island, twenty-two miles out to sea. There are other places where... Read More