heavy heavy

My first examination of the school year was last week. It covered Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson—both of which I’m fairly sure I’ve mentioned here. The test was two short essays and one long essay. There were several options of what to write on for the long essay. I didn’t write on empathetic suffering in Mariette in Ecstasy, and I partially regret that. Take two.

My personal experience with nuns is minimal. I attended a Catholic elementary school in New Hampshire, but there were only two of them left in the teaching faculty. The sister that taught music retired form teaching during my time there. The other sister was my first grade teacher. The main thing that I remember about her was her love of whoopee pies. I’m not sure if that is how you spell the word for the two chocolate cakelets with cream in the middle, but autocorrect made it that, so I’ll take its word. My Mac is obese.

The lunch table was the central point of middle school life. It was a market of junk food and crude jokes. Cold lunchers like myself eyed the platters of hot lunchers with gut-shriveling envy. On the rare occasion I would slip into the cafeteria area and grab some garlic bread or a plate of pasta after everyone had settled into their place at a table and after my bagged lunch was depleted. I felt a bit foreign approaching the lunch ladies, but they quickly became allies. “Just take it. No one should leave the lunch room hungry.” Continue reading

when things intersect

Today was the second day of classes.  I am enrolled in Honors UFound (Christian foundations), a survey of music literature from ancient Greece to Bach, several music groups, and Topics in American Literature.  The last class is taught by Gregory Wolfe, founder and editor of IMAGE, a prominent literary quarterly that focuses on the intersection of faith and culture.  He is also director of SPU’s MFA in creative writing.

I wasn’t really expecting any strong cohesion between these courses because they are each from different departments: theology, music, and English literature.  But something has already emerged.  In UFound, we will divide into groups and focus on different major Christian traditions—I’m hoping for Orthodox.  In the survey class, we will study church chants of different places and eras.  And the first book we’re reading in the Am Lit class is Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen.  Mariette is right there on the cover experiencing ecstasy.  I’ve received some odd looks.  “She’s a nun,” I say, but that doesn’t change the looks.

The book is about a young woman, Mariette, who joins an order of sisters.  SPOILER ALERT: Mr. Wolfe told us in class that she ends up with stigmata.  There is so much tension building right now, in a weird nunny way.
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