Mildew and Mystery

This is the view from a third story window in the church where I grew up. I went to a funeral there a few weeks ago. It was the first time I’d been back in years. I got there early and decided to walk around a bit, up and down the stairs and halls. It was like walking around […]

Suburban Cyclology

When I was growing up in Chicago, my dad taught me to ride a bike in the street with the flow of traffic.If I tried that in Bolingbrook I’d get run over.

How I Learned About Nelson Mandela

In first through eighth grade, I attended an almost entirely Black school – St. Thomas the Apostle in Hyde Park. Hyde Park is an integrated Chicago neighborhood; but then again, it’s not. I grew up in our racialized American culture, which – even at St. Thomas – taught me that White was smarter, better behaved, […]

My Patch of Earth

I’ve always wanted to tend a piece of ground. I remember Sarah in The Secret Garden, who moves to her uncle’s estate and is sort of lost – a little girl in the vastness of a lonely house. She asks him: “Might I have a bit of earth?” “Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?” “To […]

Spiritual Geography

 The first morning I woke up in the Berkshires, in September 1998, my new boss took me on a drive. When we emerged from the woods on the brow of a hill, I literally gasped – at the spread of the mountains, the shades of green, the little houses and barns spread out before us. I […]

Farms I Have Loved

This is a farm right down the street from our house. Well, sort of. It’s a couple miles away. An island of agriculture in a sea of Naperville suburban boilerplate. The farm interns always seem to look appropriately scruffy and disinterested when I come to pick up my veggie share. There’s also a wind turbine, lots […]

The trash picker

As I walk our dog, I sometimes find myself picking up trash. It amazes me that people throw stuff on the ground, sometimes from their cars. When I was little, the dear mother of some friends I grew up with was a “trash picker.” Her name was Melinda and whenever we took walks around the […]