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For Money

I opened mail. I tugged clumps of blueberries from twiggy branches into a red pail. I saved the files. I stamped them “confidential.” I answered the phone in a calm and friendly voice. I pinched the dollar bill with the receipt and tucked them in your palm. I packed the berries gently in pint containers, wrapped them, carried trays onto the truck. I signed for the freight. I transplanted seedlings into four-pack flats. I told your future. I took notes. I washed dishes, wiped... Read More

For Hannah

I couldn’t pray. I tried. In the family waiting room, elbows propped on the plastic seats, I bent my head, opened my mouth, and waited. Then I stood and left. Back in the room, I joined my wife. Staring at our daughter, we inclined our heads and listened to doctors and nurses and machines. Nodding, miming comprehension, I concentrated on the soft, steady exhalations of the ventilator. Whispers that sounded like it’s OK, it’s OK, it’s OK. Later, we tried together. Kneeling,... Read More

Tiniest Prayer

What you said is all I say. All you said is what I learn. Your will, your will. I move myself out of the center.  Read More

Prayer, Insisting

Lord, if I can hold this one syllable with sincerity. Lord Jesus, if I can just hold my mind together. Lord Jesus Christ, if I can hold my mind for one genuine place. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy for a single moment of real intensity, myself letting go into the genuine. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me who wishes for only one pure moment of sincerity, to be honest with the Lord and real with my own repentance. Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner who wants to be sincere... Read More

Light Adaptation

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser. AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_1", {titles:"Light%20Adaptation",soundFile:"aHR0cDovL3RoZW90aGVyam91cm5hbC5jb20vd3AtY29udGVudC91cGxvYWRzLzIwMTIvMTIvTGlnaHQtQWRhcHRhdGlvbi5tcDM"}); Reflection, the moon’s milk and penumbra, yields to source, brash shine, exact expression. I have seen the same, a broken... Read More

Prayer as Definition

I must tell you this for there is no one else here save my breath and your presence  Read More

Theater of the Absurd

During the first act of the play I decide to pray for the man with Tourette’s who sits behind us, his tics like feral hiccups, each tremor a tiny shock rocking the scaffolding in the black box. I somehow know better than to turn and look, though at first I suspect him part of the cast, his presence a director’s trick—everyman’s condition caught up in his broken gasps and strangled sighs. But no, he is simply a man with Tourette’s at a play. I commit to pray for him,... Read More

Water Mission

My father is a missionary in Saigon, and every day he sits or stands in his white cotton shirt and talks to servicemen and the Vietnamese about Jesus. While my mother rests through the heat of the day, I walk behind him to Buddha’s temple. There, in a small public pump house, open on four sides and draped in flowers, he chooses one of the dozen brass water spouts under the pagoda-shaped roof and fills our collapsible plastic vessels with water purified by filters and blessed... Read More

The Invitation

To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all-seeing, within you. — Theophan the Recluse The place is humid: four rooms, maze of red, easy to lose yourself inside. Occupy aorta and ventricle, lounge in any chamber you’d like. Feel at home enclosed by blood and beating. The walls speak. They will keep you up all night.  Read More


We hurry through breakfast, choosing clothes, and brushing hair to make the morning service. I try to control the irritation in my voice as I implore three children, whose hearts are squarely under the tree, to go faster. In my usual morning fog, I rinse soggy bran flakes from a bowl while our dog hunts stray Cheerios on the floor. Through the spattered kitchen window, between the fading shoots of the school-supplied spider plants in their plastic-cup nurseries, I notice a silent... Read More