Long ago, in the quiet of our mothers’ wombs, the snow began to fall. Blood and water and food came into our bodies and nourished us. Endorphins washed over us, along with surges of cortisol and adrenaline. An invisible womb of emotion surrounded us, too, an atmosphere of fear or bitterness or rage. We breathed that air, and the snow fell.
Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I really want to dig into scripture, but I just don’t know where to start”? Did that one poem from Isaiah give you goosebumps, but then when you tried to read more of the whole book, you got lost and unmotivated? If you answered “no,” well then good for you! But if you answered “yes,” you are in good company, and Russ Ramsey might be able to help you.
Every November, it seems that the boundary between Thanksgiving and Black Friday becomes thinner and thinner—sales begin sooner and obligatory family meals hasten to their end. Black Friday offers an over-abundance of new products, but this surplus is predicated on our shared assumption of scarcity: limited supply, time, and money.
WARNING: Spoilers of certain films and stories follow.
So tonight is Halloween, or maybe for some of you, time for a church “Harvest Festival.” It’s essentially the same thing. Your kids will eat a year’s worth of candy in one night (unless, of course, you’re one of those boring parents who hands out apples and juice boxes), and everyone will dress up, just as long as there are no bloody Scream masks or witch costumes. Whatever your tradition is on the night of October 31st, the dark, spooky themes of horror films are inescapable this time of year.
Last week one of the dearest saints of our era stepped into the Long Hello. Eugene Peterson, a pastor, teacher, theologian, and writer died after a long illness. Here’s the story from Christianity Today. It draws on a beautiful account by the Peterson family, which reads, in part:
Near the end of his life, Pope John Paul II was seated on his chair at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was in his eighties and suffering from Parkinson’s. He had trouble sitting up straight, and even holding up his head was a chore. Yet there he was, in front of hundreds of parishioners and visitors who filled the cathedral to capacity. Thousands, indeed millions more watched him on television outside in the square and around the world. He looked tired and rather glum—not an office-holder of stature, but an old man hunched by the many failings of his body.
A few years ago, Leif Enger came to speak at Hutchmoot, the annual Rabbit Room conference. That year, he and I had both gone through sudden medical crises. We bonded then over recovery stories and continued that friendship in the form of a fairly regular correspondence. When I was preparing to release Struck, a memoir about my experience, I asked Leif if he might be willing to read it and write an endorsement. He graciously obliged, providing one of the true high points in my career as an author—support from a literary hero.
A few years ago, my parents rented a beach house for a family reunion. Each of us cooked a few meals during our time, and for one of the meals, we made BLTs. My husband stood over the stove, making enough bacon for over twenty hungry people.
I wrote this three summers ago, a few months after I had graduated college. I was in the middle of a real sea-change, a marked shift in the way I began to approach my own emotions and my own story. It was as though God had been asking me to wake up and finally, I was able to fight through the sleepiness and open up my eyes. This piece was born out of those moments of gracious eye-opening.
When I tell people I’ve written a book about death, hands down, the most common response I receive is laughter.
I take no offense, though. It’s not a cruel, mocking sort of laughter. We joke about death by instinct, the way an eight year old laughs when someone passes gas. It’s socially unacceptable, therefore hilarious.
I know better than to say that I’m a Springsteen fan. It’s not because I don’t listen to Springsteen. I do. I have most of his catalog in my iTunes folder. Nebraska is one of my favorite albums, and thank goodness for The Rising and Devils and Dust, albums that did some justice to the experience of 9/11 and the second Gulf War. So, I’m plenty familiar with Springsteen and enjoy his music immensely.
I first “met” her in a book I’d pulled from my school’s closet-sized library.
Jewish refugees and resistance workers streamed through the welcoming doors of an old Dutch house, and a tiny, secret space was built into the uppermost bedroom to hide them. No needful face was turned away. The Ten Boom family prepared beds for frightened new residents and doled out cream puffs to make raid drills feel more like a game, all the while entrusting themselves and the people under their roof to God.