I Never Saw a Moor; I Never Saw the Sea








I never even had a passport.

But I know the heather because I have walked the moonlit moors with Catherine and Heathcliff. I know the roiling sea because I sailed on the Pequod and clung to Queequeg’s coffin. Continue reading

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50 Years Ago: My 15 Minutes on the Front Page

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Being Martha/Being Peter: The Other Lesson of Maundy Thursday

Jan-Erasmus Quellinus/Adriaen van Utrecht, “Christ in the House of Martha and Mary” (17th c.)

In November of 1997, I attended North Carolina Episcopal Cursillo, a short course in Christian living modeled after a movement that began in Spain in 1944 to train lay leaders in the Roman Catholic Church. The three-day spiritual pilgrimage alters lives as it trains servant leaders in piety, study, and action through talks, group discussions, a healing service, Holy Eucharist, and lots and lots of eating and praying and singing. We learned that our highest calling is to live the prayer of Saint Teresa of Ávila:

Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.

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Metatext: Memories in the Margins

  • Two weeks ago, on March 18, I saw The Sense of an Ending on the second day of its run at the Cameo Art House Theater in Fayetteville.
  • In 2011–specifically, “Thanksgiving 2011, Lake Mattamuskeet” according to my notation on the flyleaf–I read the novel by Julian Barnes that inspired the movie; it had been released in the United  States just the previous month.
  • On March 19, I reread that slim but densely packed novel in one sitting, including the marginalia–my notes, underscores, asterisks–the metatext by which I expressed my intimate connections with Barnes’s ineffectual and balding narrator.

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March Rain: A Haiku

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Letters from Margaret

It was the spring of 1976. I was 23, smart, fierce, on everybody’s most-likely-to succeed list. But as my undergraduate mentor had predicted, I was still a babe in the woods, having wandered 2,059 miles from the sheltering mountains of my childhood home. In the daytime, I swaggered around the Chapel Hill campus carrying piles of thick books on American history, picked arguments so I could wow people with my thesis that Southern liberals were always more Southern than liberal, collected accolades as I once collected gold stars.

At night, though, I was alone and tearful. Largely because of my thesis about the Southernness of Southern liberals, I had found no friends. I longed for those I had left behind in Globe and Tucson, with whom I could watch grainy foreign films at the Rialto, talk into the wee hours about “Birches” and Look Homeward, Angel, walk through the lane of orange trees near the dorm, so inspired by the intoxicating aroma that I tried out my atrophied right brain and waxed poetic. And of course I had never had a real boyfriend–only one clandestine relationship with the fiancé of a college friend, the first man who expressed a remote interest in relieving my frustrated virginity. And the situation in Chapel Hill was no different. It was 1976, after all, and too-bright women still stayed home on Saturday nights. Continue reading

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Choices, Choices: The Quandaries and the Quagmire of Identity Politics

My 56-mile commute to and from work has spawned the bad habit of scrolling through my emails at stoplights. A few days ago, I made a mental note to return to an article whose provocative title I noted only briefly; it went something like this: “Black feminists must choose whether to be politically black or politically female.” I have tried in vain to find the article, my failure due in part to the vast number of Google hits. However, my initial reaction stands. On the one hand, as a former graduate student in the history of American race relations, I have been shamed by my lack of currency in the field. On the other, however, this idea of “political X-ness” has forced me to consider once again the troubling consequences of what we now call single-issue and identity politics. And I must take a stand. Continue reading

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Lent and the Incarnation: Our Bodies, Ourselves

We who call ourselves Anglican are often labeled incarnationalists. With our Creator, we believe that what he made is good and acknowledge on Ash Wednesday, “You hate nothing you have made.” With Gerard Manley Hopkins, we exult that “the world is charged with the glory of God.” With N. T. Wright, we experience God’s kingdom “on earth as in heaven.” And with all who stand to reaffirm their baptismal covenant, we vow, with God’s help, to “seek and serve Christ in all persons.” However, those in the pews tend to focus our understanding of the Incarnation mostly on the birth of Jesus—the Word made flesh—and thereby limit one of our surest means of Lenten contemplation and discipline. Continue reading

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Bless Me, Father, for I Have Sinned: An Ash Wednesday Vision

Let’s just stick to “thou shalt not kill,” or we’ll be here all day. Your sermon on February 12, based in part on Matthew 5:21-37, reminded me that there are many kinds of murder that won’t ever qualify as plot lines on Law and Order. Anger, insult, calling my neighbor a fool–since I’m confessing, I must admit not only that I have committed these sins, but that I do so at least daily. I scream and gesture at those who cut me off on the highway. I share with glee the laughable mistakes of my students and gossip with disdain about their most egregious behavior. I seethe with anger because dishes are piled in the sink or the car is not parked under the carport. Because of the dailiness or even the hourliness of these offenses, I can’t possibly number them or even remember them in detail. Naming some of them here has, however, been an exercise in humility as I culled the list for parallelism and panache. (Yes, you’re right. That was pride in humble clothes.) Continue reading

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. . . And a Few More (Pictures, That Is)

I’m afraid I scared off more than a few potential readers by the tongue-in-cheek title I chose for my last post. “Juste (a Few thousand) Words” was meant as a play on the title of my blog and the hackneyed phrase that a picture is worth a thousand words. There, I posted several photos taken over the last few years on a series of iPhones. I found even more to share, so here they are.

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