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

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

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

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

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

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

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