Latest articles

A common, sacred thread

Her Batman-caped preschooler smiled at my Spiderman pajama-clad daughter as my cart squeaked and wobbled across the hard floor. Nothing bonds kids like superheroes.  His what-I-assumed-to-be grandmother and I briefly made eye contact in the cereal aisle and then traded the requisite half-smiles as we sped past each other once we felt the imminent tantrums…

Homesick

There is a field behind our new house, with an invisible stream buried under all that tall grass. I know–from a map–that this little swath of hidden blue becomes the Lacamas River, just east of where I can see. In the morning, I watch the cows, gathered in circles, gossiping in voices that sound like…

The allure of intentional community

When I was twenty-two, I filled a backpack and flew to Switzerland to live in an intentional community. It’s called L’Abri, which means “The Shelter” in French, and functions outside typical labels—part retreat center, part seminary, and part commune. Despite its name, the main language spoken is English. Its cluster of chalets built onto the…

The honor of invitation

I was sitting in a holy place. Metal chairs, a few tables, some windows. From a mounted television screen pictures from a wrestling match flashed, and the vending machines in the corner made their constant hum. But here in this understated room I looked at my brown leather sandals and half wondered about taking them…

Subversive hospitality

Hospitality. I feel it may be a lost art. In the busy chaos of life, frenetic schedules, and individual pursuits, is there truly any space for opening our homes and our lives? Too few meals are shared with beauty, feasting, and wine over meaningful conversation that lingers on well into the night. But this makes…

Group dynamics

When my writing group started nearly seven years ago, it was an open group. Everyone who knew of it through word of mouth was welcome to meet at Shari’s diner on Monday nights for timed writes and sharing aloud. Each week it was a slightly different group as one person decided it wasn’t a good…

See those clouds over there?

In junior high I made a tornado machine. For the science fair, I was determined to do something showstopping, something smashing. No clay-made volcano of baking soda and vinegar explosions would suffice. Our summers growing up were often spent driving to and from Minnesota so my mother could help on the farm. I assumed in…

Do something unexpected

When my mother was young,  she was a somewhat apprehensive kid, afraid to try new things, on the shy side, easily hurt. She didn’t like to get dirty or touch bugs and animals. But when she was 12 years old, she saw the movie In Search of the Castaways, and everything changed. In the movie…

Candle-Makers

From the freeway, the empty wagon bows straddling the Oregon Trail museum look like the giant ribcage of a prehistoric whale left out in the sun. Inside the museum, we join school children as they watch a documentary in which dramatic voiceovers of settlers talk about their run-ins with the “Red Man.” A few minutes…

The pursuit of self-awareness

You may have heard of the Enneagram. It’s a personality typing system. I know, insert eye-roll here. If you’re like me, these things are fun, and a little narcissistic, and about as useful as the daily horoscope. It can sort of apply, but it’s not going to change your life. Except this one has. For…

Shoot the Moon

Stay singleminded. Focus. Be confident. Follow the heat. Run like your life depends upon it. But don’t get cocky. There’s always going to be somebody better, but strive to be the best. Follow your dreams. If your tired of giving up, stop quitting and make your dreams come true. Shoot for the moon, miss and…

A Solid Seven

The pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of knowledge. The pursuit of one date that doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out. I’m sitting in my car. These things always start in my car, at least half an hour away from my usual stomping grounds; it’s my fault for setting the search radius to…