On the morning flight from Paris to JFK, I knew I had to put down in words what it did to my heart and my spirit to see Notre-Dame in person. I did not know the words would come spilling out of me when I heard news of the fire two months after that flight. It is with unspeakable relief that I acknowledge not all of the church was reduced to ashes. Even so, it seems right to simply submit these words as they are, having been begun when it seemed everything would be engulfed and lost, and having been finished only after news came that the towers and the façade were saved.
I remember when I had no imagination for how ugly the process of redemption can look. It seems like that change in the landscape of my mind marks the point in life when I could say with certainty that I had grown up. In that moment, whatever or whenever it was, hope suddenly meant something different, something heavy and precious. It wasn’t pretty—not in the traditional sense of the word anyway. Learning to carry it hurt me, and I had to get used to the weight of something so worth holding, so demanding of a firm grip.
For some years now I have operated under the suspicion that people are lonely most of the time. I may be incorrect, and it would be a pleasant surprise to find the opposite is true. But I tend to hold my supposed rightness about things pretty close, so in any case it will take some convincing. When I sift through the moments in my life where I felt most supported, connected, known or loved by others, or when I participated in such nearness with someone else so they might feel such love, and when I realize the vast number of those moments despite their paradoxical inability to be usefully quantified, it’s unclear to me whether God is nourishing my belief that loneliness is dangerously prevalent and togetherness its cure, or whether He has been thwarting my understanding of reality from the start—or my start, anyway.
Have you ever tried to cook ten pounds of pasta all at the same time? Add a guest list of thirty people plus two bands of hungry musicians, then imagine trying to cook ten pounds of pasta in water that refuses to boil without experiencing even a pulse of anxiety. Miraculously, the water boils (after you frantically separate the unyielding noodles into three separate pots) and there’s more than enough penne for everyone attending the event, plus extra penne which you later find has melted together at the bottom of the cookware.
Heartbreak makes a certain sound. You don’t always know when you’re hearing it. After a time you realize, sometimes gently and sometimes not, that your heart has been broken. It’s a hard sound to mistake once you’ve recognized it. It’s a hard sound to forget. Read More ›
Probably, it would be helpful if I explained here and now that I’m writing about a fictional character invented by Charles Dickens, and not about the self-esteem sufferings of an actual person. Read More ›
It may come as a surprise to you, but our new song, “Violet,” (available here) is about a mermaid–or, rather, the existential grappling of a mermaid. Perhaps it isn’t at all surprising that a folk band composed of Read More ›
Have you ever read Hans Christian Andersen’s original The Little Mermaid? Not that Disney introduced us to an inadequate interpretation. It’s just there’s something special about Andersen’s fairytales, how he captures sweeping hope and sharp sorrow without muddling a story’s simplicity. Read More ›