Things That Made 2020 Better

Though it’s been my practice for a decade now, I admit that I found it hard—and deceptively simple—to write down a list of “things” that improved this particular year. Hard, because I’m deeply aware that we’ve been spared much of 2020‘s toughest challenges. Simple, because I can think of dozens of separate people and circumstances…

So, About That Christmas Card Photo

At the beginning of Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy writes that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” At the risk of my English Major card being revoked, I admit I haven’t read this particular masterpiece, though I hope to someday. Until then, however, I’m not sure I agree…

Dark Though It Is

Listenwith the night falling we are saying thank you from “Thanks,” by W.S. Merwin I first learned about the origins of Thanksgiving in 2011, when I happened to be working on Thanksgiving Day. Of course, I’d heard the same story as every American kid in elementary school, about the brave pilgrims and the generous Native…

Voting {or, Loving My Neighbors}

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (NASB) On election day, Layout Editor came in a grey suit and a fedora, looking straight out of a 1940s newsroom instead of what this was, a Seattle…

Chasing {LEGO} Joy

Rest in my arms. Sleep in my bed. There’s a design to what I did and said. Sufjan Stevens, “Vito’s Ordination Song” “So, how are you chasing joy or nourishing your soul in this season?” I’ve been staring at the question in the little chat box for a few minutes by the time my co-leader…

In the Valley, With Bread and Masks

I will remember last week—one of a handful of representatives from seasons that I keep—turning them over and over like pebbles from the beach, as the week that 2020 crashed into us. Before this raises any alarms: no, none of us is suffering from the coronavirus, and no, our house didn’t burn down. Nothing really…

Of New Tents and Old Adventures

It was my brother’s fault. How many times have I invoked this big-sister refrain in the slightly-more-than-thirty years we’ve shared together? Plenty. But this time it’s actually true: Without my brother, we would never have gone camping this summer. We loved camping as kids; Dahlstroms went camping more often than any other kind of vacation….

…And Good In Growing Old

Between us, by the peace of God, such truth can now be told; Yea, there is strength in striking root and good in growing old. “To Edmund Clerihew Bentley,” G.K. Chesterton (Here I am, again haunted by four solitary lines of poetry, in effect making this a Part II post. Read Part I here, if…

Open Letter To My Children on the Fourth of July, 2020

I’ll have to do this work someday, too, and I hope I handle it with the grace of my parents, for whom exposing me to brutal stories was an act of love. Brit Bennet, from “Addy Walker, American Girl” 4 July 2020 Dear Daughters, 364 days ago one of you—the only one who was speaking…

Messy Beginnings

June 23, 2010 I sat on the cold floor of the airport as my last day living in Seattle changed over to my first day of living… away. It was past midnight, and I leaned against the wall, having just checked my carry-on at the gate so as not to have to bother with it…