Entertaining Angels Unawares

Like a water bug on a lake, he zipped past me, twirling around the display case, flailing his skinny arms, talking to himself, entertaining himself at the T-Mobile store. He was my favorite kind of child. A frenetic, voluble young … Continue reading

What the Hell, Dentists?

For all of my adult life, I’ve been flossing. Okay, okay. Not when I was in college–who needs to floss when the only thing going in your mouth is cold beer? And not when I was a young lawyer. Man, … Continue reading

How to Fail at the Race Talk

I failed at the conference for racial justice this weekend. I gave racially tinged advice to a perfectly innocent question that had no race element to it. I mistook one African-American woman with glasses and short hair for a different … Continue reading

You are Not My Conservative Friend

Two years ago, my husband and I went to Central Europe and heard the stories of those once neighbors—laughing together, eating supper, playing cards—who fell to pieces over “Serb” and “Croat” and “Muslim,” and began killing one another. We all … Continue reading

Our New Surroundings

We’ve finished the beach house. I told y’all about the narrative I’d created to guide the process along. I’m only gonna share one photo, or else I’ll go crazy showing you my whole house. This is a guest bedroom, which … Continue reading

A 4th Moment in Mississippi

In the assemble hall at Power Elementary School once a week we’d gather for sing-alongs. Our wooden chairs had squeaky black-hinged seats that flipped up when not in use. Sit too far back and, if you were a skinny, skinny … Continue reading

Don’t Tell Me about Your Assault Rifle

I no more want to know you like assault weapons than I want to know what kinky things you do with a porn magazine in your hand. You see, if you’ve moved past guns for self-protection into defending your right … Continue reading

Jesus Hanging on the Bathroom Wall

In the pouring rain, across a highway divider in an unknown town, I sit at a red light, listening to the rain thump the car. Gone are the jokes about the cheap hotel room that cut the tension while we … Continue reading

Like a Hawk

You see, I’d just held a fundraiser for Outreach, Housing, and Community, the organization June Averyt founded to end homelessness. She also founded Door of Hope, which is where I met her when we started Door of Hope Writing Group. … Continue reading

Thank You for the Soul

When the dark night of the soul overtakes me and I can’t sleep for wondering how on earth I could’ve so terribly wasted this wonderful life I’ve been given, I sneak down the stairs, carefully feeling with my toe for … Continue reading

Trusting in Life

The retreat had not yet begun. I was walking beneath the live oaks, crossing from the dorm room I would share with my cousin and aunt to the building where we would practice restorative yoga for two days. The gulf … Continue reading

The Waterways of Hurricane Katrina

I have a lousy sense of direction. No, that’s not it. I have difficulty translating directional information into an understanding in my head. This failure is pervasive in my life. Driving—hell, walking. I am totally missing a directional chip in … Continue reading

In Case You’re Following Along

Today, I finished polishing the first ⅔ of Jazzy and the Pirate. That means I have ⅓ to go. I’m not giving away too much to tell you the rag-tag group of characters has arrived in New Orleans, ready to … Continue reading

Spiritual Bottleneck

Early Wednesday morning, the man who’d spent the night on the streets walked the hallway at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. He stopped at my table, lingering. He did not look happy. I think of this church hallway as the “neck” … Continue reading

Prayer, A Rule of Thumb

A while back, I conducted a workshop where I took my writing mentor Rebecca McClanahan‘s book Write Your Heart Out and translated the types of nonfiction writing into types of prayer. I don’t remember all the parallels (writing from joy, for … Continue reading

“Working” with “The Homeless”

He calls me over. Wants to know if I work out. “‘Cause you sure got a nice shape.” The breakfast St. Mary’s offers for those currently homeless is almost finished. He’s mopping up his grits. His friend on the other … Continue reading

What I Love about My Life in Memphis

I live in Memphis on an island with wild edges and a dog who loves them as much as I do. I have a wood-burning fireplace in my house. I go to St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral where the Dean stands … Continue reading

June: Not a Sentimental Person

Many years ago, when I was letting the Spirit lead me around by the nose, I went to Door of Hope and asked if I could start a writing group for men and women living on the street. Dr. June Mann … Continue reading

Spiritual Dyslexia and Central Command

I call it “spiritual dyslexia.” When I was teaching myself to write, if an offering really, really did not appeal to me, I reluctantly signed up. That’s how I discovered literary journalism—literary journalism? I gasped when I read the syllabus … Continue reading

An Outside Plant

He had one plant, small. I had three hanging baskets and two big ferns, fat. He’d been there when I arrived, he and his wife wandering among the plants. It was mid-day Wednesday, no one else at the nursery. A … Continue reading

Who’s Threatening the Grapes?

Why do the grapes need protecting? I’m talking about it on the website. Yes, I mean literally talking. Go to the Home Page and listen to the front porch moment. Then listen to “Drunk at the Foodland Again” at STORIES. … Continue reading

Check Out This New Blog

My writing coach and wonderful friend Connie Burnett Cruthirds has started a blog! If her initial post is any indication, you’ll want to join me in following along. Peace by Piece: “How Can I be 54 and Still Fat?” … Continue reading

Targeting LGBT Discrimination in the South

I went to junior high and high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte was the home I returned to in college and law school. When my daddy died, I sang over his grave: “I’m a Tar Heel born, I’m a … Continue reading

Trust the River

I arrived at a certain point in the writing of Jazzy and the Pirate that felt like a period. An ending about to soar to a new beginning. Exciting, but also a bit daunting. I needed a break. How does a … Continue reading

Constructing Life

The boss man wasn’t there today. That’s what the worker told me, standing in the great room of our half-finished house. He was sanding. I was inspecting. He thought the homeowners might want to talk to the boss. I wanted … Continue reading