As I emerged from the dairy aisle in the neighborhood supermarket and turned toward the bagels, I spotted my old friend Terry Regan over near the soups. He saw me at the same time and we started toward each other. I hadn’t seen Terry for nearly a year and he looked slimmer. Good for him, I thought; he needed to trim down a little.
We are a nation of spiritual seekers. We are hungry to learn about the life of the spirit, although many of us hesitate to translate that hunger into institutional allegiance. The majority of us are “unchurched.” Others are drawn to “seekers’ churches.” Still others are exploring the life of the spirit within a denomination and a tradition.
The first thing that strikes us about Lucille Clifton’s poetry is what is missing: capitalization, punctuation, long and plentiful lines. We see a poetry so pared down that its spaces take on substance, become a shaping presence as much as the words themselves.
When former secretary of State Madeleine Albright was fielding questions about Afghanistan recently, one inquirer asked about the role of women in Islam, citing the miserable treatment of females in Afghanistan. Albright’s response was less interesting than the assumptions of the questioner, who was clearly expressing the opinion of many Americans.
Lent tears us from the glow of Christmastide and Epiphany and propels us into a harsh new season. The early warning signs—the flight into Egypt, Rachel’s uncontrollable wailing, the talk of the cost of discipleship—were easy to gloss over while the “Noels” were still ringing in our ears.