Despite halting attempts to live my life with hope, I’ve failed. My experience is not unique. We suffer. The recent pandemic, including its side effects of loss and displacement, is but one example. Suffering can leave a sense of hopelessness in its wake. One place I look for balm is in poetry.

As with most poetry, Emily Dickinson’s (1830-1886) work requires me to pause and ponder. What is being said? Not easy to tell, nonetheless, I often do find meaning in her poems. If I understand her thrust at all, much of the meaning I glean disorients me.

Continue reading “HOPE, PAIN, DESPAIR, AND JESUS by Esther Nelson”

Fierce Friendship and the Holidays by Stephanie Arel

It is the weekend before Thanksgiving, in the ominous year of 2020. The CDC urges people not to gather with others outside of the household on Thursday. COVID infections rise exponentially. Schools are closing, and in the much of the country, winter is foreboding.

If you live in a cold climate, Thanksgiving dinner outdoors is hardly an option. For, Chanukah, Christmas, and New Year’s, we will likely endure the same conditions. I have tried to center myself, mediate, do things to calm my nervous system, using some of my personal tools for stimulating the vagus nerve so as to not feel toxic. I think that is what the cortisol in my body is telling me: slow down, gather, go inward. But I also sense a missingness – a loneliness – alongside a desire to reach out, call people, and connect. (See the effects and remedies for social isolation here.) Away from people, traditions, anticipation of my favorite time of year, I brace for a deeper sense of loss. Continue reading “Fierce Friendship and the Holidays by Stephanie Arel”

Slant the Truth by Esther Nelson

esther-nelsonSeems to me that our society nowadays “believes in” slavishly following step-by-step instruction found in “how-to” manuals.  By following such rigid-like instruction, we hope to find meaning that enables us to live fulfilled lives.  This became evident to me (all over again) during a recent departmental meeting at the university where I teach.  We put aside discussion of items on the agenda because our director had invited a guest speaker, the Vice President of the Division for Inclusive Excellence, to talk to our group about “equity and inclusivity.”

In the wake of the University of Missouri students’ complaints (Fall 2015) regarding persistent racism (among other things) and their demand for more inclusion within the university, a group of students recently made their way into our university president’s office to demand change.  More Black professors.  More Black counselors.  Cultural training on campus.  After listening to the students, the president invited them to participate in an upcoming forum on diversity and inclusion, promising that his staff would work to get them excused from class.  Continue reading “Slant the Truth by Esther Nelson”

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