I have three small groups of friends. These are close friends, dear to my heart, but ask any one of them what faith means, and their answers will be distinctly different.
The first group sees miracles, God’s hand, in everyday things. He reveals Himself in a hibiscus flower grown into the shape of the cross. Shadows on ancient stone floors become faces of the dead. They get shivers or a deep sense of peace. It is a comforting and heartening belief.
Another group sees rules: fasting on Holy Days, confession before communion. They go to church every week, some of them every day, and urge their children to set examples, to express dismay if their friends stray. They believe this is their duty.
The third group of friends have either lost their faith or are drifting in that direction. They are disillusioned with organized religion and perhaps this is why their beliefs are fluid. They see each situation as unique: what’s wrong in one case may be right in another. They have accepted their children’s decision to live with a significant other because love and commitment are their bottom line. They believe in live and let live. Continue reading
I’m not a mystic, but what I am about to tell you is the true story of Jim Hathaway, a crotchety old editor who found a way to give me the exact writing advice I needed, at the critical moment — and even better — several years after he was dead and buried. Given Jim’s strength of will, I doubt even cremation would have stopped him.
Jim was a member of The Lafayette Park Writers, a critique group of retired editors, columnists, English professors, novelists, and one traveling actress. Each week they met in a city parks and rec building and enthusiastically welcomed each newbie who fell in off the street. Each of the core members was experienced and nurturing, and each in his own right could have lit up Sin City on the sheer strength of his personality and charm. But even in that group, Jim stood out.
Tall, svelte, and mostly bald, Jim wore double-knit pants and white shoes. He had a pugnacious delivery, a voice like a cheese grater, and in spite of his liver-spotted skin and huge ears, blue eyes as round and eager as any eight-year-old boy’s. I admired a lot about Jim, but the quality I most respected was his life-long elasticity, his willingness to reinvent his skills, his writing, and himself with each new physical challenge or technical advance placed before him. In writing and in life you could always spot Jim; he was the barefoot, shirtless boy skateboarding fearlessly down Breakneck Hill.