Weeds in a Pot

Embarrassed by its unkempt appearance, I decided to finally tend to my kitchen window box, which this summer had been allowed to run altogether wild. I’ve had mixed success with past plantings, the mix tending mostly toward failure.

This year, however, I took the expert advice of a professional gardener and the resident green thumb of our apartment building. I purchased evergreen ivy, treadwell mint, and a perennial, all brands of plants that could survive not only a hot season, but also me. Yet when I pulled in the window box to transplant them, I was faced with several leafy green dilemmas. You would probably call them weeds. Continue reading


Sermon in the Streets

Supply preaching is a strange phenomenon, but I gladly provide the supply myself. I have decent tolerance for strange situations, and I’ll include last weekend in that. I was supply preaching at a former church of mine, the one where I’d served as Intern and then Summer Minister, the same church that later became my ordaining congregation. I have a great fondness for it still. It’s located in midtown Manhattan, a place rarely crowded on a Sunday in summer. Unless – and this is a considerable exception to that generality – that Sunday comes at the end of June, when the Gay Pride Parade marches down Fifth Avenue.

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Praying for Good Weather

Recently, I spent the weekend at a remote retreat center in the Jersey Pine Barrens, where a small convocation was holding its annual meeting. The accommodations were fairly rustic, but hardly anyone grumbled since the weather there was so great. Because the weather is a nice place to start any conversation, I commented on how lovely it was to the center director.

“Isn’t it gorgeous?” she said. “You know, I prayed for good weather!”

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Strangely Silent Years

March on Media: Part II in an Ongoing Series on the  Place of Technology in Our Lives

Once upon a time, when a mariachi band or barbershop quartet or stray female vocalist stepped into the subway car, we passengers had strong, palpable reactions to the sounds that were about to come streaming into our midst, the positive as well as the negative variety included. No longer. Nowadays, nearly everybody is wearing headphones as they ride the rails. The equanimity commuters seem to display in the face of such performers is just them failing to notice the music spilling out into the tight spaces we’re all traveling through. New Yorkers already have the soundtracks set to their days; they’ve got their own private playlists on a perpetual loop. Isn’t that the way to keep pace with progress? Continue reading

Three-Inch Screens

March on Media:
Part I in an Ongoing Series on the Place of Technology in Our Lives

A few months ago, at a family get-together that took some pains to arrange, I looked around our assembled group and saw just about every single relation staring at the small, glowing screen of a smartphone. They hardly noticed one another, let alone my staring; their attention was held captive by a series of three-inch squares in shifting shades. That family picture has stayed with me since then, although I never snapped it with a digital camera. No electronic copy of it sits anywhere on my laptop or Ipad or Blackberry or e-mail inbox. I simply see it in my mind’s eye and it still saddens me. Continue reading

The Man in the Gray Cat Suit

In my prior incarnation, I was an English teacher, serving as adjunct faculty in the English Department at a local university, where my colleagues were literary and imaginative and favored felines. As an esteemed professor, the former chair of the department, so succinctly stated: “We are cat people.” Shortly before starting in the English department, I had adopted a very young kitten, just weeks old, entirely gray except for a spray of white at his throat and chest. My colleague from the department observed that the tiny cat appeared at all times to be wearing his “bib and tucker,” an observation that instantly earned Tucker his name. Continue reading

Underwater Cathedral

Although I come from a long line of beachy people, I am not a beachy person myself. I burn too easily to worship the sun. Instead, I wear broad-brimmed hats and scurry to the shady spots along the shore. Because I grew up bouncing in the waves, though, I am a watery sort, especially where the water is warm. Every year or so, my husband and I try to head to points southerly where the seas are clear and the fish are friendly, and we join them there. We are not deep-sea divers; we are humble snorkelers. Continue reading