Consider the Pomegranate


Picking a pomegranate is not as easy as it seems. That leathery skinned fruit doesn’t cry out to be plucked like a ripe peach or fall from the tree, as figs do, begging to be eaten. No, Israel’s promised fruit must be carefully, cautiously taken. The tree’s branches, with pencil sharp end points, scratch the reaching hand; the price of getting at the shiny, crowned red fruit.

With a tree at my new California house heavy with ripe fruit, I’ve been thinking a lot about pomegranates as I pick and eat my way through more of them in a month than I’ve had in my whole life’s consumption. What was once a special occasion fruit is now a daily reflection and pleasure. I’ve use pomegranates in jelly, juice, smoothies, sprinkled them on salads, in spring rolls served them with roasted eggplant and yogurt sauce tucked into pitas, and always fresh from the peel, as fast as I can peel, out of hand. I’ve peeled and eaten and eaten. Short of the work of peeling, they are they are the kind of fruit I don’t tire of. Perhaps it is the packaging, each little jewel-like aril must be plucked individually, each one a miniature bite of sweet-sour splendid. So much flavor so tightly bound in each bite and so many in each fruit.

Enriching the pungent pop of each little aril, pomegranates bear the depth of religious significance in many faith traditions.  They were a promise and reward for the exodus from Egypt, the adornment for temple vestibules and raiment. Their juice bleeding flesh conjures remembrance of Christ’s atonement. Jewish tradition holds that they contain as many seeds as the Torah. A symbol of fertility, the beauty and abundance of their carefully bound seeds signify the continuation and gift of life. Some hold that this biblical fruit was the fruit of our first parents. Continue reading

Peculiar Treasures: Pushing Past Boundaries, JSTOR for Pleasure and More



This week our selections and suggestions feature people pushing past perceived limits and thresholds and into something new, bold or startlingly beautiful.

Let’s start small. Really, really, really small. Impossibly small? No, knit  not quite.

What would you do with a child that struggles? Would you offer your child a box of paint hoping to help and discover your child was so full of color and sound that was just waiting for the right medium for it all to pour out on. A painting prodigy preschooler. Her story reminded me of this stellar picture book I read to my own kids recently.

Could you change the hand life dealt you? Widowed, pregnant and desperate in a war-torn third world country, this woman and so many like her did. Beauty rising.

Beauty and awe is an seemingly impossible dream achieved on the notorious Cuillin Ridgeline in Scotland. What a rise and ride.

More elevation: from the everyday to art or from the prints in the book to their originals up at the conference center.  Or rise up with this young poet’s performance piece, turning ugly words into lines of beauty.

Props to JSTOR for getting even more awesome and everyday. Let’s all geek out. Or have a less geeky geek out at the art of misdirection. As someone who has been pick-pocketed, I couldn’t look away.

Are you a satisficer or maximizer? How you make decisions may show your happiness, but what about the happiness of those you share decisions with? Great advice how to work together for the greater good.

And for the greatest gift giving, ditch the traditional gift. 

For this week’s First Draft Poem Lara responds to the state of post-postpartum in America. Surely we are overdue to push over perceived boundaries of how fast women and families can “return to normal.” Could we push back to the more thoughtful consideration we once had and some parts of the world still honor?

Give a care for the


new now or seven times

over new.

Keep her out of the fields,

warm by the fire,

a bowl of soup

with filtered sunlight,

Circle the sister with

her sisters until

it’s all alright.


Sabbath Revival: “Origin of the Species”


I thought Kathy Soper’s post “Origin of the Species” would be an interesting post to revive, given that Meet the Mormons opened in theaters this weekend!

Origin of the species
October 25, 2010 Daily Special, Kathryn Soper

Mormons are named for the Book of Mormon.

The Book of Mormon is named for the prophet/historian Mormon.

The prophet/historian Mormon was named for the land of Mormon.

The land of Mormon was named by a malevolent king.

The land of Mormon is where one of the king’s wicked priests became a prophet.

The land of Mormon had a forest-fringed fountain of pure water, called the waters of Mormon.

The waters of Mormon is where said prophet secretly baptized hundreds of believers emerging from apostasy.

So, “Mormon” signifies a place of purity surrounded by danger; a place where a fallen people were removed from evil and filled with grace; a place named by a degenerate man and hallowed by a repentant one.

Sounds just about right.

What does “Mormon” mean to you?

Passions: From Dark Chocolate to Deity

photo by Linda Hoffman Kimball

photo by Linda Hoffman Kimball

We are starting new quarterly themes on the blog. This October-December we will be featuring pieces by several of our staffers on Passions. Do you have something to share on the topic ? Submit a guest post and maybe we can share your passions too.

In anticipation of our theme I wrote out in stream of consciousness fashion what first comes to my mind when I think of the broad concept of “passion.”

Here are my results:

Passion is when I crave something – crave to be involved with it, consume it, handle it, watch it, learn from it, get lost in it, become more fully human and more thoroughly eternal through it, and/or think differently because of it.

When I am passionate about something my voice may rise in giddiness or exhilaration. Or it may deepen in a primal protectiveness (“Don’t mess with me, I know what I’m talking about regarding this”). It can become a low, rumbling, imperative growl (channeling Aslan.) (Or Katy Perry). Continue reading

What a 40 year old woman should do

Last week I was with a group of women and we were talking about European adventures. I half laughed and talked about my adventures in Italy, traveling with another broke college student, eating out of grocery stores and staying mostly in campgrounds. Once, in Verona, we camped in a full hostel’s back yard. I think they charged us $5.00 to put up a tent on the grass, packed in among several other grubby 20 somethings. We had to walk through the hostel to get to the back yard, and the hostel was a crazy, chaotic mess with beds stacked everywhere. Somebody was even sleeping on a bed on wheels in the hallway. (I have never been so jealous of a person in my life.)

A woman laughed with me and said, “Would you do it that way again?”

I considered the question and said, “Now, you mean? Nearing 40 and with 2 kids? Probably not.”

She looked surprised and said, “Are you talking about yourself? You’re not 40, are you? You can’t possibly be 40.”

I shrugged and said, “I’m 39. Nearly 40.”

She waved me away and said, “Oh, one more year, you’re still young!”

Because one more year is that far away? Will I be officially old in a year?

I had another conversation with another woman, where, when I revealed how old I am, she said, “Well, you look GREAT for your age!”

What is somebody my age supposed to look like? Continue reading