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Reflections in the Silver Cup

TO DRINK FROM THE SILVER CUP

Edie Jarolim and I have never met in real life, but we've exchanged a lot of ideas, resources and support as we both made decisions about how to get our memoirs written, published and publicized. Edie's hilarious, courageous and informative book, Getting Naked for Money: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All, was released in October, 2016. Besides being a memoirist and travel write with a load of impressive credits, Edie also writes about food and animals, especially dogs. She will teach a five-week class on memoir writing at the Jewish Community Center in Tucson, beginning March 8. She asked several friends who've written memoirs to write blog entries on their most difficult problem while writing their books and how they solved them. My essay posted this morning and is reprinted here with Edie's permission.

MY WRITING NEMESIS

Packing for a trip? I have flat zippered bags for different categories of clothing—one with neat rolls of underwear and socks; another for tank tops, also neatly rolled; and a third for tees. Trousers and pullovers are rolled along the sides of the duffel, and each trip has its color coordination for versatility.

My desk? There’s place for everything, and everything in its place. Sure there’s always a pile of papers and folders on one corner, but it’s neatly stacked, and until I get to filing, I know what’s in it. Moreover, I cover my desk with a long blue cloth to protect the contents from the omnipresent high desert dust.

And yet! Organization always Read More 
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TO DRINK FROM THE SILVER CUP

A PART OF THE BODY





I was born and raised in the Christian Reformed Church. My parents were missionaries in the Navajo Nation. As a passionate believer, I witnessed to my playmates and started begging to take communion when I was seven because I had asked Jesus into my heart. I expected that God would one day call me to serve. When I was sixteen, two women at Rehoboth Mission were discovered to be lovers and were expelled. A year earlier, I’d had a romantic relationship with my best friend, which confirmed something I’d sensed for a long time about who I was. I was terrified, thinking that I, too, might be expelled from the church that had cradled me and nurtured my spiritual growth, the church I loved.

Within two months of what happened to those two women, I became what would today be a statistic. I tried for the first time to kill myself. Studies Read More 
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LESSONS FROM THE JOURNEY

IT’S HARD BEING A HUMAN BEING



First published April 30, 2016 in The Gallup Independent as a "Religious Perspectives" column. Some minor changes have been made.

It was about 6 pm, and we had two more hours to go. I stood in the hallway with one of my students and another teacher. It was the mid-evening break at our afternoon and evening high school. The young man said, “Yeah, I worked all day scraping tar and gravel off a roof. When I get home, I want to read a story to my son, but I’m already so tired.” His face was weathered dark, with a light beige mask around his eyes where sunglasses had screened his skin. He went on, “I’m trying to help my family in Mexico and support my own little family. And I want to graduate.” Saul wasn’t complaining, just telling it like it was.

I put my hand on his shoulder and said only, “It’s hard being a human being.” I said it so often to my students. Sometimes I added, “And it’s even harder being a teenager.”

When my daughter was a junior in high school, we signed up to Read More 
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TO DRINK FROM THE SILVER CUP

REFLECTIONS ON MY
FESTIVAL OF FAITH AND WRITING



I just attended a conference where Zadie Smith, Tobias Wolff, George Saunders, and Nadia Bolz-Weber were the keynote speakers, and I didn’t go listen to any of them. That’s right. I would have loved to. As a writer of creative nonfiction, I especially wanted to hear Tobias Wolff. And I haven’t yet made it to Nadia’s church when I’ve been visiting Cheyenne in Denver. But I had other fish to fry at the Festival of Faith and Writing (FFW) at Calvin College, one of my alma maters.

The FFW is only held biennially, this year celebrating its 25th anniversary. Over the years it has hosted such literary luminaries as Salmon Rushdie, Marilynne Robinson, Chaim Potok, Maya Angelou, Elie Wiesel, John Updike, Madeleine L’Engle, Annie Dillard, Katherine Paterson—the list goes on and includes many, many less known authors. So it’s no wonder that I have had my eye on presenting at the conference for even longer than two years.

This year a few friends and I made a concerted effort to get me on the schedule. At the time, To Drink from the Silver Cup hadn’t yet found a publisher, but I had published it as a serial in blog format on my website, and I offered a few different presentations I could make—one being about the pros and cons of blogging a book, something I thought other writers could be quite interested in. It was not to be. When I finally heard back Read More 
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