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The Sun Magazine

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Leap Of Faith

Yossi Klein Halevi’s Quest For Reconciliation In the Holy Land

What I learned from Muslim devotion was the power of total immersion of the physical and emotional self in surrender to God. There is little I’ve experienced that can compare to the power of Muslim surrender.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

They Always Call You “Miss”

There’s more to waiting tables than you might think. It takes courage, for one thing. You walk up to a table, and everyone turns to look at you, as if you’re about to deliver the opening line of a play. You have to look happy all the time too. You have to look happy but concerned, bending forward while they talk, listening carefully, asking, “Ranch or Thousand Island?” You have to act as if you know what you’re doing and everything is going according to a plan. You can’t think of all the things happening in the kitchen. You have to remember: Gin and tonic to table 8; man at 12 is late for a meeting; nut allergy on 5. You have to remember it all and not get overwhelmed.

Four Mandalas For My Father

My father used to tuck me in at night. It was a ritual I looked forward to throughout my childhood and even into adolescence, when my father became slightly repulsive to me — what with the errant hairs protruding from his nose and ears, and the smacking noise he made while eating. By thirteen I was mostly avoiding his hugs. But I would still agree to be tucked in now and then. Indeed, I would now, were he here to offer.

Looking Like Osama And Other Confessions

In 1975 I lived in Gainesville, Florida. Two years before, I had flunked out of Cornell University. A hitchhiking trip had led me to this Southern college town, where I roomed with Sharon, a photographer who enjoyed lying in hammocks. We lived at the edge of the black ghetto, in a dusty house with only yellow light bulbs. Above the dinner table was an abstract painting of writhing gray shapes. The living-room ceiling was hidden by a parachute. I worked part time at Mother Earth, a natural-foods store, where I bagged raisins and lecithin. I found I could live on very little money. (According to the Social Security Administration, my total earnings for 1975 were $1,455.) My rent was $45 a month.

Dispatches From The Occupied Territories

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, cofounder of the Palestinian militant organization Hamas, was assassinated on Monday by the Israeli military. Had the Israelis hired a marketing firm to tell them how to create the ultimate Hamas martyr, they couldn’t have done a better job: a blind, elderly man in a wheelchair, murdered by missile fire as he was coming out of a mosque after prayer.

Now And Then

Back then, we carried brown paper supermarket bags filled with trash down the dark apartment-house steps to the incinerator, pulled a handle, dumped the bag onto a metal lip, and let go. Now we drive three miles to the town dump to recycle glass, plastic, and paper in clear, twist-tied bags, a yellow Town of Shelburne sticker stuck to the side of each one.


The Wake

The phone rings during dinner. The break in the silence is a relief, but I don’t move. In fact, I pretend I don’t even hear it. I’m fifteen and angry at my father for making me stay home again on a Friday night. He pretends not to hear the phone either. Perhaps he’s afraid it will be another of those dinnertime telemarketers asking for “the lady of the house,” and he’ll have to fumble through some awkward explanation about how she’s deceased and could they please remove her name from their list, and then he’ll hang up and pretend the conversation never happened. But after three rings, he decides to risk it. Could be work. Wouldn’t want to miss a work call. He gets up from the table.

Readers Write


I was parking cars for the city of Austin over the December holidays. It was temporary work, simple but tedious. While working there, I met Mario, who was from somewhere in Mexico. He didn’t speak any English, and I’d always been too lazy to learn much Spanish. Mario wore a red wool hat with earflaps and coughed incessantly. When he’d finished a coughing fit, he asked another employee for a cigarette. The guy reluctantly gave him one.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Sy Safransky's Notebook

March 2005

With the death of 150,000 people in the South Asia tsunami still dominating the headlines, I didn’t feel much like celebrating New Year’s Eve, but I kept my promise and took Norma dancing. I knew she’d been looking forward to it, and I remembered something a friend had once told me: his biggest regret, while waiting for the results of a biopsy his doctor had ordered, was not having taken his wife dancing more often. Out on the dance floor, however, I found it difficult to put the tragedy out of my mind. I reminded myself that more than 150,000 people die every day in this world; that Norma and I had made a donation to the relief effort; that here it was, New Year’s Eve, and the band was better than I'd thought it would be. Later, we made love, waves of passion carrying us away.

Musings From Our Founder ▸


If a man would follow, today, the teachings of the Old Testament, he would be a criminal. If he would follow the teachings of the New, he would be insane.

Robert G. Ingersoll

More Quotations ▸
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