More vacation notes: June 24 and associated memories

12:10 Mass at the Cathedral of St. Paul in downtown Birmingham. I spent my entire young life in and around Birmingham, and I never walked inside this building until today. I don’t remember ever even seeing it till I was in my 30’s. I frequently ate at the Social Grill, just a block away, when I was in college at Birmingham-Southern. I discovered the Birmingham Art Museum when I was in my ’20s. But St. Paul’s Cathedral? Nada…till today. Continue Reading

Vacation Notes: June 24

Breakfast at the Microtel in Gardendale, Alabama is a real wake-up, a brittle break from my ordinarily sheltered, stained-glass routine. Truckers with the rural, southern linguistic twang so familiar to me from childhood and adolescence have a very different perspective on current economic and political concerns than that of my midwestern, middle-class community. I’m tempted to recoil, to take my English muffin and coffee back to the quiet isolation of my room, but somehow I manage to smile at my insecurities, take a breath and enjoy the banter around me. Continue Reading

Discoveries about Hospitality

This summer I have been asked three times to open my home to others to live for one to three weeks.  Each time I have said yes.  The third time–still coming up–I will be away while a family of five from England stays in my house (hopefully with no damage to the two year old in my not-especially-childproof home of many bookshelves).  But with the first two visitors, I was reminded how good it can be to have a housemate, and how a long history of sharing a house leaves you with a muscle that springs easily into use again. Continue Reading