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The Sun Magazine

The Dog-Eared Page

The Serpents Of Paradise

I finish my coffee, lean back, and swing my feet up and inside the doorway of the trailer. At once there is a buzzing sound from below and the rattler lifts his head from his coils, eyes brightening, and extends his narrow black tongue to test the air.

Three Little Events

But maybe it wasn’t a fluke. Maybe it was a crazy little peek behind the curtain, a dim little whisper of providence from the wings. I had been expected, I was on schedule, I was taking the right journey at the right time. I was not alone.

The Ledge

The boy did for the fisherman the greatest thing that can be done. He may have been too young for perfect terror, but he was old enough to know there were things beyond the power of any man. All he could do he did, by trusting his father to do all he could, and asking nothing more.

excerpted from
The Surgeon As Priest

I cannot see their hands joined in a correspondence that is exclusive, intimate, his fingertips receiving the voice of her sick body through the rhythm and throb she offers at her wrist. All at once I am envious — not of him, not of Yeshi Dhonden for his gift of beauty and holiness, but of her. I want to be held like that, touched so, received. And I know that I, who have palpated a hundred thousand pulses, have not felt a single one.

excerpted from
The Little Virtues

The birth and development of a vocation needs space, space and silence, the free silence of space. Our relationship with our children should be a living exchange of thoughts and feelings, but it should also include deep areas of silence; it should be an intimate relationship but it must not violently intrude on their privacy; it should be a just balance between silence and words.

excerpted from
A Grief Observed

I had my miseries, not hers; she had hers, not mine. The end of hers would be the coming-of-age of mine. We were setting out on different roads. This cold truth, this terrible traffic regulation (“You, Madam, to the right — you, Sir, to the left”) is just the beginning of the separation which is death itself.

Girl

This is how to make a bread pudding; this is how to make doukona; this is how to make pepper pot; this is how to make a good medicine for a cold; this is how to make a good medicine to throw away a child before it even becomes a child;. . .

The Disposable Rocket

The number of men who do lasting damage to their young bodies is striking; war and car accidents aside, secondary-school sports, with the approval of parents and the encouragement of brutish coaches, take a fearful toll of skulls and knees.

Bullet In The Brain

After striking the cranium the bullet was moving at 900 feet per second, a pathetically sluggish, glacial pace compared to the synaptic lightning that flashed around it. Once in the brain, that is, the bullet came under the mediation of brain time, which gave Anders plenty of leisure to contemplate the scene that, in a phrase he would have abhorred, “passed before his eyes.”

Houses Of The Spirit

When I asked my six-year-old son, Dev, why he wanted to go to church for the first time that Sunday morning, he gave perhaps the only answer that could have nudged me into folding my newspaper and moving toward some faith I’d never bothered with before. He wanted to go, he said, “to see if God’s there.”