The first time it struck me, I was reading Henri Nouwen’s Our Greatest Gift: A Meditation on Dying and Caring. “It seems fair to say that between the ages of one and thirty, people are considered young; between thirty and sixty, they are considered middle aged,” Nouwen writes. I was 29 and a little terrified.
Christian Wiman offers further evidence that his voice is among the most compelling in contemporary poetry. These poems are filled with theological conundrums, unanswered questions, brutal answers to questions never formed, and above all, contradictions.
If you’ve heard of The Fault in Our Stars, the recently released movie based on John Green’s bestselling book, you’ve probably heard that it’s about teenagers with cancer. And while this is true—the main characters, Gus and Hazel, meet in a teenage cancer support group—one of the movie’s greatest triumphs is not letting the characters be defined by their cancer.
It was my last day at St. Benedict's Monastery in Minnesota, where I had been leading a retreat on Julian of Norwich. Since St. Benedict's is one of my favorite places in the world, I wasn't really ready to come home, and put off calling with my travel arrangements until evening.
Recently I met someone who had been to South Africa to witness the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He had all the usual admiring things to say about it, with one new piece of information. All of the members of that commission are ill in one way or another, he said. No one has survived the process with his or her health intact.
Being sick is more complicated than it used to be. Medical technologies that offer new hope also lead to a bewildering thicket of options. The complexities of being sick may account for the rising number of books telling the story of illnesses.