The Clerestory Podcast S1 E25

The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me
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essay Slow

When your dad drops you off at school this morning and reminds you that he has signed you up for the cross-country team, you wonder how you got roped into this one.

essay A Time for Everything

One of my earliest memories of coming to terms with mortality was when I was a child, just shy of seven years old.

essay “Gardened from the Wilderness of Space”

Some time ago, I went to a reading by an excellent Midwestern poet. 

essay Les Vagues

It was summer; and there was a patchiness to the weather.

essay Distance Learning

On our walk through town, my husband and I passed by an assisted living facility. There were a couple dump trucks in front. 

essay Somewhere in a Hotel Gym

Somewhere in a hotel gym, a mother is running on a treadmill. Her sneakers haven’t touched pavement in months, and her taupe leggings make her thighs look like seals.

essay About Solitude

Spring in our county brings wind. Early in the morning, a light breeze lifts leaves on the trees, in and around the back patio.

essay Inversely Proportional

When I see the three positive pregnancy tests lined up on my bathroom counter, my first thought is that I wanted another baby, but I did not want another baby like this.

essay This Tricksy Body

The mind plays tricks on us. This we know. The heart is deceitful above all things. This we accept. But the body is the consummate con artist.

essay The Sanctuary You Create for Yourself

What does it mean to make your body a home when all it has ever known is the loud incessant chatter of rooms too full of thoughts so mean, you’d only dare say them to yourself?

essay Sympathy for the Devil

In 1330, five days after he killed his wife, Geoffrey of Knuston of Abingdon sought sanctuary in a church in Northamptonshire.

essay Public Transport as a Civic Re-Education

I used to think that my hometown would always feel welcoming, that I would always be able to slide back into place. I plotted my return for many years.

essay How Many Calories Are in the Body of Christ?

It is common to intellectualize the sacrament of Communion, and to view the practice as a sacred ritual of reverence. 

essay Mint

I am one of two hundred teenage girls walking through the Ozark green on a muggy July evening.

essay Water Becomes the Sacred

What is “sanctuary”? To me, sanctuary is a refuge, a retreat from the noise and myriad voices competing for our attention.

essay The Marshall House

On a sweltering August afternoon when only a man deranged would return to Savannah, I wheel up.

essay Reading Makes Us Free

How can I explain the joy that I get from reading? Words can't fully express it.

essay Coming Home: Women Circle as Sanctuary

Last weekend felt like coming home. 

essay Fire and Water

Fire, 20 miles south, 30% contained.

essay Finding My Flock

“Who else is on the reservation?” asks the assistant naturalist, who appears to be around the same age as me, as she finds my name on the registration list for a bird talk.

essay Too Many to Count

I go there again and again, never tiring of the place. When I’m away, I imagine that it waits for me, no matter how long my return might take.

essay Coming Home from the Georgia Coast, Late Summer

Sunday, a day early, but those murderous temperatures, and we’d had our gators if not our dolphins, our tidal marsh kayak if not our sunset river cruise, decent meals if never a feast...

essay Holy Ground

I don’t want to worry. But I do. I want to lay my burdens down and find rest. But I don’t. My mind interferes.

essay Summer at Nrityagram Village

I arrived at Nrityagram dance village in Karnataka, India in July of 2014 with the monsoon rain.

essay My Covid in the Third Person

Earlier this morning, he called his parents with the bad news. He had just learned he has Covid-19. 

essay Grill Night on Virginia Street

Sunset, palm trees, and chicken on the grill - these three ingredients should have made for a perfect evening.

essay Food, A Love Language

Cherished family memories ground and bond us, enriching our lives in ways nothing else can.

essay A Work of Art

That hot June night, my mother made me ride with her in the dark blue Dodge out to Route 38, what we thought of as “the highway.”

essay End of Days

What a dinner Monica has prepared for us. First, she and Allesandro and the younger couple with the baby girl, bowls of snacks and a glass of local red wine in the shade of the towering fig tree.

essay Savoring Central Texas and, Specifically, Its Barbecue

When I was a girl, I knew only one thing about Loop 360: it was the road that took my family to the barbecue restaurant overlooking Bull Creek

essay When Everything Was Everything

Years before I went to restaurants with dishes like “scallop mousse” and “seaweed gremolata” on the menu, I was a Jersey girl who loved bagels.

essay Easy as Pie

I cleaned out the cookware cabinet in my kitchen. Marie Kondoed it. 

essay An Old Hunger

The gutter overflowed with brown, spiky husks like the aftermath of a tiny urchin apocalypse.

essay My Mother's Recipes

What could she have wanted with all of those empty containers, so meticulously cleaned and stored so haphazardly around the house?

essay Family First

A reflection in ten steps

essay The Oklahoma Tenant Farmer and Me

Last fall, my dad showed me five three-ring binders he kept in his home office. Each was filled with original handwritten letters, many of them yellowed with age and written by my great-grandfather

essay Like No Other Place

Cleveland was the place we went back to. Like homing pigeons or salmon returning to spawn. Cleveland felt like no other place, not home exactly, but something separate and apart.

essay How I Became a Published Author in Prison

At 18 years old, sitting in my prison cell, I was very lonely. I had just been sentenced to 241 years in prison.

essay On History

The George Eliot Fellowship greeted my second cousin and myself in Nuneaton with hot tea, biscuits, and a copy of every book that George Eliot had ever written.

essay History Books in Finger Crooks

All that remains of Gridley’s store is some time-curled paper copies of these supposed facts recorded by someone associated with the State of Connecticut Historical Commission for the Historic Resources Inventory and haphazardly shoved in a purple file folder marked “House Documents” by me.

essay Three Strong Women

Tape recorder on, I tried interviewing my 75–year old grandmother for a 6th grade school project. “I can’t talk about it,” my Bubbe said in her Russian-English accent.

essay The Art of Loss

Once upon a time… all history books should begin like a fairytale. 

essay Day Three of 2022

On day three of 2022, I found myself giving our Christmas tree the stink eye, its presence a reminder of our Covid-stricken holiday season.

essay Izyaslav

In the summer of 1997, at five years old, I place my grubby little fingers on a thin trunk, the grey bark slightly soft beneath my palms. . .

essay The Legacy of Mirabai

In July of 1998, on a high school auditorium stage in central New Jersey, I played the starring role of Mirabai, a 16th century Hindu bhakti poet and mystic, in a semi-classical Indian dance drama.

essay On Activism and Contemplation

I have often felt, throughout my life, that activism was a “given,” meaning that it was something I was expected to do.

essay Counting the Minutes with Tears

Once I was in New York with my partner. The MOMA was closing in 30 minutes, so we decided to pay full price to see Starry Night.

essay Origami: My Personal History with an Ancient Art Form

When winter rolled around and the other kids were busily cutting paper snowflakes, I was drawing circle snowmen and triangle Christmas trees...

essay Racism and My Tea Obsession

I am a former refugee, and a tea fanatic, living in Ottawa, Canada. When I rented my first house in the city, I understood that my love for African tea would be a trigger for racism.

essay Digging for My Roots, I Turned to Tomatoes 

The hot, muggy Maryland summers of my childhood were filled with outdoor activity. Some of this time was spent, willingly or not, helping out in the family garden.

essay Following the Ancestral Trail of Bravery

From the beginning of time, people have faced tragedies. Why do some adapt better than others? It's the history of my family that encourages me.

essay Of Widest Worth

A reflection upon Wendell Berry’s “membership” from a suburban neighborhood...

essay The Art of Gardening

The gardener is an artist, a creator, and an architect... the serenity in the garden sings to their soul.

essay Erosion of Home

As the ocean air spritzes my face on a late morning this past June, its saltiness meets the saltiness of the hot tears rolling underneath my tortoise-rimmed sunglasses.

essay Arriving at My Senses

It really happened: I received the things I was asking for: the simplicity, the sustainability, the radical freedom I desired.

essay Signs of Life at a Park

That day at the 90-acre park in the northwest suburbs of Austin, there were signs of life everywhere, and I was one of them. 

essay The Yellow Ladybug Effect

It was crawling next to Sara for a few seconds before she noticed it . . .

essay Reading Growth Rings

The trees hold earth’s history. The pages revealing the evidence of the planet’s stages through the ages are bound most accurately not between the covers of a textbook but between the core and the bark of the oak, maple, pine, languishing ash. 

essay Psalm 23 and Climate Change

Worshipping outside for an extended period of time has been an invitation to be surprised by natural elements we cannot control.

essay Crafting the Body: An Ecology

Imagine for a moment that our skin was a transparent membrane which revealed the inner workings of the body. That we humans had been designed in a way that left the mechanics and chemistry of our anatomy in plain view

essay Surviving a Food Desert in College

I attend Clark Atlanta University in the West End of Atlanta, an area where 90.5% of the population is Black and the median annual income is around $34,000.

essay A Castle of Dreams

There is a place we return to every summer by the Gulf of Mexico. It has a long winding sandy path we walk on to the beach, covered with old oak trees, reaching to the sky with long branches that hang low and thick over the path like a mother’s hug.

essay Paraquat and Environmental Racism

I grew up in the rural suburbs of Kenya, where farming was the primary source of income for most households. My fascination with plants, farming, and the environment stemmed from my mother’s love for gardening.

essay A Simple Ham and Cheese Sandwich

A whisper of cloud stretched across the sky, as we stepped out of the lodge. We still had a half-hour to wait for the sun to come up, but the cloud already burned orange-mauve, spreading a pale rose glow onto the snow blanketing the meadow.

essay Transplanted

Early on a summer morning, before the heat held the city captive in its stagnant breath, I sat on a bench in Madison Square Park looking at Ghost Forest, an installation by artist Maya Lin. This barren grove of Great Atlantic white cedar trees stood like weathered sentinels in the verdant park.

essay Haters and the Garden State

Learning to love New Jersey roughly translated into learning how to love myself.