Sol’s Visit

“He was afraid of girls. It didn’t matter how shy or friendly or fat or pretty or plain or desperate the girl was. He was afraid of them all. Then he grew up and his father died and he was still afraid of girls . . .” A short story by Jennifer Anne Moses.

On Privacy

“Having procured the grape leaves, the Whole Foods shopper sat back down next to me on the bed in our married couple pose, lifted the comforter up over himself again, and started munching. . . I was entranced.” A short story by Cady Vishniac.

The Children

“The truth is, even now he doesn’t know how or why he’d so abruptly turned his back on his wife and children, forsaken his wedding vows, and broken with Jewish law. It was almost as if he’d been under the influence of a drug.” A story by Jennifer Anne Moses.

Matrimonial Agency

She fumbled for the bedside lamp as her husband asked who was it now, for the love of Pete, and what made college students think they could wake up their professors in the middle of the night. She kissed his forehead and told him it was probably one of those wrong numbers again. People should really know better than to drink and dial, she said, knowing that her little joke, like previous attempts at cheerful intimacy, would most likely fall, to use a biblical expression, on uncircumcised ears. He rubbed his nose and mumbled something into his pillow, rolled over and resumed snoring, first softly, like a baby, then with rapidly increasing vigor. She cupped the phone in both hands and whispered a hesitated hello into the receiver.

CAMP HAPPINESS

They were going to separate—she wanted to and he was done fighting her—but before that there was Dylan’s bar mitzvah, and before that was now: this weekend in the rolling hills beyond Oakland with similarly bereaved Jewish strangers.

Blue, Texas

I was eating two slices of Oscar Meyer bologna that I’d topped with a squiggle of yellow mustard and squeezed between two slices of white Wonder bread. But he held a bulging thing housed between two dense slices of dark bread, a sandwich that was both pungent and foreign, about as unreal as anything I could recall.

Convoy

It doesn’t matter if you’re a good soldier; we’ve seen enough burning, mangled truck frames to know that death is completely impersonal here, that these roadside bombs are nothing more than an ominous lottery.

Feral

Climbing the tree had not been a thoughtless or impetuous action. The girl had taken a Jew’s harp, a handful of dried cranberries, a scrap of blue leather, feathers, a vial of silver and turquoise beads, a needle, some thread, other secret objects, some sacred, all carefully balanced in the lap of an oversized T-shirt that the girl turned alternately into a desk, a knapsack, a handkerchief for blowing her nose, while another T-shirt became a bandanna, a snood, and a white banner that declared most adamantly: “I will not surrender.”

A Commentary and Guide to “A Journey of Passion”

A journey into spiritual experience and trauma may seem disorienting, like entering an ancient labyrinth. We push ahead into the twists and turns, concentrating so much on where we are going that we don’t notice the walls we are passing or the marks left on them by the generations who traveled before us. Even if we did stop, we might not be able to read and understand the markings. They may seem like remnants of a lost language, or one that we remember only through faint impressions. Perhaps many of the references in the main story of “A Journey of Passion” are familiar to you; others might sound remote, mixed with childhood associations or relatively meaningless to our modern lives.

A Journey of Passion: Spirit and Horror during the Christian Holy Season

We were gathered in front of our church for the Palm Sunday celebration, dressed in our best clothing, full of Sunday morning cheer, waiting for the priest to arrive and begin the service. It would begin outdoors, as it does at Roman Catholic churches, and many other Christian churches, around the world. I went to one of the tables where I could pick up a palm frond to wave aloft during the procession into the church. It was the beginning of the most sacred portion of the year, the climax of the Christian story.