Sunday I sat silently while the priest read the gospel — John 11:1-45, which I’ve heard a million times. Lazarus dies, Jesus cries, and then, the miracle. But something sticks out now that never had before.
Jesus had received a message from his friends Mary and Martha. Their brother, Lazarus, was sick.
And Jesus didn’t show up.
He waited two days before he left for Judaea. In the meantime, Lazarus died. His sisters’ souls hurt. And what Jesus said about it to the disciples rocked me.
In a chapel at a Catholic parish on a Friday, I knelt at my seat a few feet in front of the altar, during adoration. I wanted to pray, but got distracted by a casket.
Through the chapel’s glass wall, I saw a set of pallbearers in dress blues carry it into the commons.
I looked away and tried to pray, again. But I couldn’t, because an inexplicable urge had overcome me — the urge to attend the funeral.
I am a journalist. Spent about a decade working for the Tampa Bay Times before I quit and moved to Virginia, where I freelance write full-time for Virginia’s largest paper.
Last week, I pursued four or five stories. Conducted interviews. Took pictures. Didn’t sleep enough.
Business as usual.
But multiple times in a few days, the subjects of stories I’d planned to write asked a question that grinds my gears: “Can I read what you write before it prints?”
I don’t miss Snapchat. At all. And for lots of reasons. But one of them is the same reason that a Verily editor who recently wrote about Snapchat is sick of the app: some of its filters “Photoshop” your dang face.
In one swipe, my face was transformed to standards that the fashion and beauty industry has been pushing for decades: wide eyes, a petite nose, a thinner face, and a crystal clear complexion. I felt, in a word, ugly.
The filters she decries can be defended as “for fun.” But they are also disguises that reinforce the lies that the shapes of our faces and eyes, the tones and types of our skin, should align with a set of standards that human bodies don’t naturally meet.
In 2011, only five weeks before the end of what had been a difficult semester of grad school, I pined for finals week. Being in that place reminded me of what it feels like to aim for the finish line on a dragon boat.
Several springs ago, I spent a season on a dragon boat team and a day competing in the Tampa Bay Dragon Boat Races. It is an art to paddle in sync with 19 other people, which you must do in order to stay on course. It is exhilarating. And exhausting.
The easy part — once you’ve trained — is starting strong. The hard part is staying strong for the rest of the race. Your job is to throw your arm into the air and put the paddle back into the water, over and over, in unison with your teammates. You get splashed and you get blisters. Sometimes your whole body hurts.