29 Sep 2017

Do Not be Afraid

  “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”1 —Frederick Buechner   These were the words that marked a house fire and the death of a beloved dog for some folks that I met earlier this year. They are the words I wrote under a dark sky and a full moon, a picture I painted for my friend whose dear mom died on Easter morning. They are the words embodied

Johanna Byrkett 0
09 Jun 2017

Sorrow and Stars

Last light is leaping from hill to hill spilling like liquid from an upset cup, A golden haze spreading o’er rock and rill until, until, until the valley has its fill and the glory thins and wavers and is taken up     The clouds’ creamy bronze hues drain clear, drop by drop—suddenly they run ashen grey in an eye-blink, in the drip of a tear giving way to darkness, uncertainty, and fear as the

Johanna Byrkett 1
24 May 2017

the end of the cigarette

the end of the cigarette i smoked a cigarette today and drank a glass of milk set on a log both i and the milk were beading sweat now and then i leaned the column of the cigarette against a flake of bark that used to generate the very life of this tree now a log i sat on indifferent to me in the yellow sunlight the cigarette was from a yellow pack with a

Daniel Hyland 0
02 Feb 2017

The Lost Art of Evangelical Weeping, Part 2

As discussed in part 1, proper expressions of suffering and grief (spiritual and physical) seem to be largely discouraged in modern evangelical churches. Unfortunately, this trend may be less of a recent phenomenon than we think. Pastor Tim Keller has bemoaned that early Reformed and Lutheran churches may bear some responsibility, despite Martin Luther’s efforts to correct the medieval church’s promotion of stoic-like endurance in the face of suffering.1 Luther argued that Christians need not earn

Timon Cline 0
11 Nov 2016

Swallowing Light

i am alive. i am awake. i am aware of what [life] tastes like.1 It tastes like meteors. Like sunshine spilling warmth over me as I lie on a mound of wood chips. Like black currant tea and dark chocolate. Like thought-full and heart-felt conversations. Like fear from a film—and fear of the unknown. Like crisp autumn air, scented by leaves crunched. Like solitude under the moon. Like sorrow piercing my heart. And it tastes

Johanna Byrkett 0
07 Nov 2016

The Lost Art of Evangelical Weeping, Part 1

There is a mood and practice of forced buoyancy in American evangelical churches. In near Orwellian fashion, this frenzied gaiety tries to sanitize the church of any perceived negativity, sorrow, or grief. I have been in church services where the worship leader mounts the stage, “kicking off” the service with, “How’s everybody feeling this morning?” (implying the expectation of a positive reaction), followed by, “Oh, you can do better than that!” when the enthusiasm of

Timon Cline 4
18 May 2016

When You Give Death Its Sting

When you give death its sting And it is finished Nothing left but darkness and torn curtains And a bloody mess You’ve crucified Christ afresh And you’re both hanging dead How do you get to the resurrection? What gets you both down? Joseph and Nicodemus came sorrowful Begging for the body Can you feel that sorrow, too For your Lord’s death for you? When you realize you have killed him And so have no life

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy 1
09 May 2016

What is Your Grave?

About an hour into a conversation with a friend, we began discussing the death of Lazarus and Jesus weeping with Mary. Jesus had purposely waited to come to his friends that he might glorify the Father through the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus said to Martha, “I myself am the resurrection and the life.” He knew he was about to push death right out of a man, to make him what he should be: fully alive.

Johanna Byrkett 0
23 Nov 2015

Dark Nights End in Dawn

Serpentine sorrows weave their way through my thoughts tonight. It has been one of those days where things go well, but one person after another lets a little bit of ache show through. I see the hurt-yet-trying-to-be-vulnerable so the heart won’t harden. I see broken bodies and broken hearts. Sick bodies and sick souls. I see carnage and horror in the streets of Paris and Beirut. The pain piles high; the daily struggles of how

Johanna Byrkett 0
24 Jul 2015

Grace and Catholicism Part III – Repentance

Grace and Catholicism Part III – Repentance We approach the edge of a cliff. Flailing arms wildly, we careen toward the brink and launch outward into abyss. Abyss of inscrutability, abyss of love, abyss of justice. Abyss of knowing and unknowing, of God and man, of freedom … or something else? In line with the subject of our series, this abyss represents the dire difficulties raised when we speak about the human will in matters

Benjamin Winter 4