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.
For years premature rumors circulated about the demise of the Consultation on Church Union—the 40-year-old theological dialogue in which nine U.S. church bodies have sought to break down the barriers that divide them.
My guess is that most middle-aged people when prodded to consider “aging” think immediately about what the flesh is heir to. In my case, there is the hair once “prematurely” gray now (without excuse) white. The root canals. The face that looks increasingly lived-in, the lower back that threatens to go out.