I just don’t see the connection


Once he heard the gunfire stop, Matthieu made his way back to the restaurant. “I saw a lot of women dead on the ground,” he said, his voice catching on the “f” of “femmes.” “It was mostly women that I saw.” He found one of his friends, a Brazilian studying in Paris, lying in the middle of the street. She had been seated across from him, and was shot in the chest. Matthieu sat on the ground and held her legs, feeling her shallow breathing. She would survive.

People were running through the streets in an eruption of panic, shouting as the police arrived and tried to establish order. The scene couldn’t be secured; Matthieu worried that the shooters might return. Next to him, a man without injuries held his girlfriend’s lifeless body in his arms. Then, without warning, he ran off. The woman was about twenty-five and very beautiful. Matthieu searched for words to describe her perfect, uncanny stillness. […]

Last week’s victims were normal people doing normal Parisian things: eating and drinking together, going out at night to hear a concert or watch a soccer game. After a few days, the rhythm of Parisian life returned, but a new fatalism hung in the air. People seemed resigned to the idea that more attacks would happen, maybe soon. […]

I remembered that when Matthieu and I first met we’d discussed our upbringings, and religion had come up. His family was Catholic, but I couldn’t remember if he was religious. “I’m more agnostic than Catholic, though I come from the Catholic culture,” he said. “In any case, this isn’t really a moment when I’m thinking about religion. When I think about religion, I always think about it in connection with what’s beautiful, what’s good. But never in connection with evil. I just don’t see the connection.”

~ Alexandra Schwartz, Letter from Paris: The Long NightTerrorist attacks and a city changed.

Illustration: Arc De Triomphe by Christoph Riemann in The New Yorker

Running. With Rain.


56° F.  Rain spitting on the windshield.
The convoy rolls out to Mianus River for a trail run.
Zeke sighs as he curls in the backseat.  Anya settles in the trunk.
The Wolfpack is draggin’.
Their leader rides the slow lane on I-95 thinking about the benefits of a long walk on his joints.
99 days. 3 months + since your last trail run. What a lazy a**.

Rain stops.  Clouds hang low.
We pass through the gate.
The Park is empty but for a fisherman making his way upstream.
Both dogs pull on the leashes. A sharp tug gets them to heal.
Wait! I’m not ready for this yet.

I look up.
A gold leaf canopy.
I look down.
A solid gold leaf carpet.
Someone is laying tracks.
[Read more…]

Rabbi to Agnostic: Your Word is Fire (Have me thinkin’)


If prayer is pure and untainted,
surely that holy breath
that rises from your lips
will join with the breath of heaven
that is always flowing
into you from above […]
Thus that part of God which is within you
is reunited with its source.

~Arthur Green & Barry Holtz, Keter Shem Tov, as adapted in Your Word is Fire

Credits: Poem: Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Samantha West (Untitled)

Walking Cross-Town. Heal the wounds. Heal the wounds from the ground up.


“Pray for me.”

Soft spoken and gentle, he leans into a man and his child amid the throng on the streets of DC.

He repeats.

“Please pray for me.”

I ponder that for a moment.  And, I keep walking.

Barricades are coming up. Husky NYPD officers are manning their stations. NYPD Commissioner Bratton quipped that the pontiff will have “6,000 guardian angels watching him.” He means “Six thousand police officers, 1,173 police cars, 818 tons of concrete barriers and 39 miles of metal and wood barricades are what is needed to help protect Pope Francis on his visit to NYC.”

6000 Guardian Angels. 818 tons of concrete. 39 miles of metal and wood barricades.

I walk.

The flock is amassing.

Man with Gramophone stands in front of Madison Square Garden warning of Armageddon. [Read more…]

Sunday Morning: Light from Light


I am as culpable as the rest,
my veneer spit shined and shallow,
my intentions on the level of a Sufi master’s.
Pill and pearl.
Twee of divine.
Look how my articles of faith
are disheveled, disorderly, squalling,
nailed to no door, unrecitable, in bloody flux, forgettable.

Light from Light 

Yet I believe them, my faith’s restless articles.

~ Melissa Pritchard, Decomposing Articles of FaithA Solemn Pleasure: To Imagine, Witness, And Write


Sunday Morning


Perhaps we wouldn’t need chapels if our lives were already clear and calm (a saint or a Jesus may never need to go into a church; he’s always carrying one inside himself). Chapels are emergency rooms for the soul. They are the one place we can reliably go to find who we are and what we should be doing with our own lives—usually by finding all we aren’t, and what is much greater than us, to which we can only give ourselves up.

“I like the silent church,” Emerson wrote, “before the service begins.”

~ Pico Iyer, Where Silence is Sacred

Image: Groteleur


What Motivates a Modern Nun?


[…] Which provoked a question: What could lead a personable young woman from a happy family to give up everything — especially at a moment when women have never had as many opportunities before them?

It’s a reasonable question.

Yet amid the palpable jubilance of this jam-packed basilica, it is clear that this question is the wrong one. There are no sad sacks or martyrs on this altar today. These are happy, excited women. What is it they believe they have found?

Sister Bethany says it’s the “peace in your heart” that comes from knowing you are where you are meant to be. In this case it’s a place so countercultural, it’s almost un-American. For in a nation founded upon the God-given right to the pursuit of happiness, these sisters vow to put the happiness of others before their own. […]

~ William McGurn, What Motivates a Modern Nun?

Photo Source: Thank you Doug @ Eclecticitylight. Image from the 1947 film titled: “Black Narcissus


Walking Cross-Town. Crossing the Street.


The morning ritual is…

GET to the office.
GET to the desk.
Fire up the PC.
GET a jump on the day.
Same. Same. Same.

I exit Grand Central,
and head West.
Same route.
As the crow flies,
it’s a straight shot, on foot, cross-town, to the office on 48th street.
Speed traps are meted out by flashing Don’t Walk! signs and traffic,
as jaywalking is a cultural norm in Gotham.

I couldn’t tell you what triggered it.
It could have been a car horn.
A driver shouting at another.
Or perhaps more subtle,
a bird call amidst the gray, inert skyscrapers,
or a unusually, warm early morning wind gust from my left.

[Read more…]



[…] I ask nothing more of God
than a very slight little tap,
coming to answer yes to my question…

~ Hélène Cixous, from “The Cauliflower of the Lautaret,” Love Itself: In the Letter Box

Notes: Quote Source: Journey of Words. Helene Cixous’ full passage on Google Books. Photograph: Petrified Tears

It would just be there


I lie awake,
wishing I had faith of some kind.
I’ve caught glimpses of it now and then,
I can even conjure it up for a second or two,
but it fades.
It’s a stillness,
the polar opposite of worry.
It isn’t hope;
hope has too much energy,
requires constant renewal;
faith (if I had it) would just be there.

~ Abigail Thomas, Safekeeping: Some True Stories From a Life

Photograph: A. Sprigg via Precious Things