More Than Muscles

“Show me your muscles!” I say.

My boys shrivel up their faces with a scowl, strike a pose, and conjure up their pre-hormone physiques. The experience is similar to that of a Jedi warrior invoking the force.

“Look at those strong boys!” I say as I examine their arms.

Every time, my young men smile back. They usually bounce away with their chests a little higher and hearts fuller. I am too proud for words—with or without notable muscles. They are mine. My sons.

I turned thirty-six last year, and I can subtly sense the creeping shadow of a mid-life crisis looming over me. It’s probably much more about longing to see Jesus face to face than sports cars and cheap thrills. Those things never satisfy middle-aged people anyway, and I’m not interested in that kind of emptiness. Whatever the shadow is, it won’t find me waiting on a couch of discontent. I’m after something deeper.

I’m still asking the question: is the Lord really proud of me? 

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Happy Valentine’s Day, Annie Folger

February was warmer than normal in Mt. Pleasant. Less snow than rain fell, and the days were temperate enough that if you closed your eyes, you might think it was April, even May. So much so that Annie Folger’s forsythias bloomed. As they do each year, the mounds of white erupted and blocked the view of the house from one side, dusting the ground around the porch and covering Rex’s red Opel GT with shed blossoms, like a beautiful pox.

He had bought the Opel when he returned from Vietnam, weeks before marrying Annie, and it loyally followed them through three moves, three children, and forty years. He drove it to work on Fridays at the airport, when the weather was warm. It was a snap judgment, the sports car, a splurge. It reminded him of Ferraris he had seen when he was younger, and the wanton virility that he had felt in those days. The whine of its engine and the smooth lines of its body had been wild and reckless. The round taillights had alluded to speed.

Anymore though, they smacked of denial.

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Book Review: Some Glow Brightly, by John Palmer Gregg

Back at the beginning of December, our editor John Palmer Gregg introduced the world to his first novel, Some Glow Brightly, from Thistle Bound Press. It’s a young adult narrative surrounding the misadventures of Red Snyder, a fourteen-year-old baseball lover from fictional Laurel Hollows, Tennessee. Red finds himself, along with his father, at the painful end of a dangerous car accident, as a result of which he discovers that he is among a number of people who can separate consciousness from body, shifting into the spirit world. While exploring his new-found talents, he not only meets others like himself, but slowly uncovers an evil plot to open rifts between the worlds and unleash a reign of terror.

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A Big Day of Small Things

Last Friday night, we held our first Foundling House brick-and-mortar event—a dinner and concert called Echo Hill, featuring the talents of Eric Peters, Janna Barber, Palmer Gregg, Ben Bannister, Bill Wolf, and Lorraine Furtner, plus an excellent feast by Sullivan’s.

This project had been more than six months in the making. The idea always seemed to be floating around in the back of my mind that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to virtual reception of art, to interaction by proxy. That kind of distance relationship, at least where art is concerned, suffers from a fan-based mentality. Good poems, stories, and songs drift into the territory of hagiography—that glowing writing full of miracles and merit that surrounds the saints of old. If we add the personal context of presence, our work takes on different and perhaps more holistic meaning*. I had mentioned the possibility of an event to our writers’ group multiple times, trying to gauge interest and, on a more subliminal level, hoping that if I talked about it enough, I would figure out how to pull it off.

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Peace

Like a river rushing furiously forth
Chasing the scarlet leaf that has just turned loose from its love
I chase you, my love.

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The Subtle Extravagance of Nature

I was woefully unprepared to become a father. The youngest of four boys, nurturing didn’t come natural to me. My daughter’s entrance into the world five years ago was dramatic and powerfully enduring. She was a fussy baby. My wife and I were always jealous of parents who could leave their child in the car seat for hours on end. Our nightly routine included three hours of bouncing and singing in a tireless rotation until the crescendo of crying finally dropped off and we all fell in the bed exhausted.  Everyday we’d try new methods of soothing our little one, but nothing seemed to work consistently. As I became less embarrassed about my lack of parenting skills and my daughter’s screaming, I began to strap her in the baby carrier and stroll to a park in the neighborhood, baby sirens blaring. It was then that I noticed a pattern. Almost always, soon after we stepped outside, the crying would stop.

She was mesmerized.

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God in the Process

St. Augustine once wrote that he carried a “question” with him at all times: “My question was the attention I gave to the world, and its reply was its beauty.”

Beauty—no matter our taste—demands our attention.

This past summer I began looking again at my new surroundings: the city of Nashville. In hopes of recording some beautiful “answers” with my paintbrush, I’d get up early and catch the morning light as it woke up the world. One such morning I sat down on a curb across the street from a hilariously pink Mexican grocery, and began to paint. That hot pink screamed for my attention!

Following my habit I started working quickly to capture the essence of the scene, when steadily—one by one—construction workers began setting up on the street not five feet in front of me. Workers. Cones. A truck. Another truck. Boom! Construction blocked!

“I can’t go anywhere in this town without running into construction,” I huffed, packing up my supplies. That’s when the lightning bolt struck:

Construction is everywhere.

From roads to skyscrapers and traffic cones to tower cranes, the multicolored landscape of construction had one thing in common: my attention.

But could it be beautiful?

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