This interview appeared in "Transgression," a recent edition of the journal Oneing, published by the Rohr Institute.
Joelle Chase: Perhaps we could begin by talking about some of the ways in which you have transgressed, Cynthia! For example, your book on Mary Magdalene delves deep into a topic that has been taboo in many Christian circles. What has it been like for you to break the silence, to transgress some religious norms?
“Pan de vida, cuerpo del Señor,” our tiny choir sang, our third grade voices filling St. Basil’s Catholic Church. The congregation sang the next part: “Cup of Blessing, blood of Christ the Lord.” I could see my mother and sister standing side-by-side in the front row, singing along. To my left, Father Dan was beginning to rise. It was his turn to sing.
Dear Lord, sometimes this job is too much for me. Listening to the pain and heartache of your children leaves me sobered and sad. And sometimes unable to sleep. As the stories play out in my head I ride the turbulent waves of their distress as in a small boat. The sea of emotions is wild and the winds of uncertainty strong. But then you are there, and you say: “Peace be still!” and the wind and waves subside and calm returns. And I sleep; my heavy head resting on your lap. Thank you, Lord.
Camp meeting! Summer in my house begins with the annual trek to the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference camp meeting at Highland Academy. Tents, bugs, and this year, a snake, all add to the memory book of adventures.
Only 36, I often feel out of place amongst the rocking chairs piled high with pillows for the ever-aging set of devotees. Yet, even while multi-tasking on classwork, texting my husband, and reconnecting with friends, I gain spiritually from the lessons presented.
For Father’s Day, a little poem about my dad who taught me much about how to be present in time and place. And another poem-sketch of a favorite “here,” the place where my soul feels most at home on earth.
“Are we there yet?”
I asked my dad on the
long road between school days
and summer at Grandma’s house.
he always retorted,
regardless the location.
I am here now.
I am here.
I am now.
“Why do you sell these pills?” asked the little prince.
The clerk said to save time. Experts had calculated that a pill to quench thirst would save you 53 minutes a week.
“If I had fifty-three minutes to spend as I liked,” the little prince said to himself, “I’d walk very slowly toward a water fountain….”
I don’t remember my own context—age, place, circumstance—when I first read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. I was completely engrossed in the story, and the outside world slipped into periphery. Meg Murry, the main character, seemed closer than my own skin. I do remember that at family worship I asked in all sincerity to pray for Mr. Murry who was in trouble, and then I realized he didn’t need my prayers.
This is the first article in a short series on spirituality in children and young adults' literature. This Mother's Day I fondly recall the many, many times my own mother read aloud to us as youngsters. From My Bible Friends to Sam Campbell's tales of wild critters to The Chronicles of Narnia we encountered truths and wonders that opened our eyes to the presence of God in reality. Thanks to all moms (and dads and grandparents and older siblings and babysitters) who opened new worlds to us by sharing good stories! - Joelle Chase, Spirituality Editor