Everyone needs someone to tell her she has spinach in her teeth, preferably before she has spent 15 minutes wondering why her table companions are so taken with her smile. One friend recently crossed a gender boundary to help me with a similar problem lower down.
“XYZ,” he said, when we rose from eating lunch together.
Summer is sailing past and we are trying to catch up to it in our 1988 Volvo with its worn upholstery, carpet of crushed Ritz crackers and Freon-guzzling air conditioner. We are on the road, not as carefree summer bohemians, but as the sober, hopeful parents of a high school senior searching for a good liberal arts college.
The photo of the new priest among his people is an old one. “First Solemn High Mass,” it reads in white handprint in the top right corner, “of Rev. Thomas P. Lynch,” and on the next line, “St. John’s Church, Jackson, Mich., June 10, 1934.” It is a panoramic, 17”x 7” black-and-white glossy.
Last summer, my big adventure was a bicycle trip through northern Portugal, where church bells still ring the hours and homeowners value grape arbors more highly than garages. While some people I met grieve the loss of their nation’s one-time dominance in the world, others admit that obscurity has its benefits.
When he’s at home, Rowan Williams, former archbishop of Canterbury, begins each day with a short meditative walk, or sometimes with some slow prostrations, followed by 30 to 40 minutes of sitting on a low stool to repeat the Jesus prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner”). Usually he repeats the words silently, saying them while breathing out. “Over the years increasing exposure to and engagement with the Buddhist world in particular has made me aware of practices not unlike the ‘Jesus Prayer’ and introduced me to disciplines that further enforce the stillness and physical focus that the prayer entails,” says Williams (New Statesman, July 8).