Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!


From the March 2017 Print Edition

This second circle—coming back againto the coming back—the sweeping dial of days; where all time’s whats and whys and whensclick clockwise on your face, or mine. Beginagain the memory of counting while this second circle, coming back again,continues clicking on its route to chimedelights and . . . . Continue Reading »


From the May 2016 Print Edition

“Virtue! a fig! ’tis in ourselves that we are thus or thus.Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our willsare gardeners.” —Othello, William Shakespeare “Virtue! A fig!” We grasp the hoe and dig.The dirt we turn is taken from ourselves.We chop the trunk and bough; then clip the . . . . Continue Reading »

Laundry List

From the March 2016 Print Edition

“The ordinary acts we practice every dayat home are of more importance to the soulthan their simplicity might suggest.” —St. Thomas More Shake out doubt.Sliced mustard seedsgather in creases of what you believed,once. Find them. Remember the feelof soft, the soap-smell of calm,and smooth the . . . . Continue Reading »

All Saints’ Day

From the November 1998 Print Edition

Waiting behind burned-out jack-o’-lanterns for day to come, the saints clap their stigmata hands. They are the sun’s halo, shimmering the November air with celestial simplicity; the sky, their dried blood. By the time we wake on All Hallows,weary from our own werewolves and witches, the narrow . . . . Continue Reading »

All Souls’ Day

From the November 1998 Print Edition

We stack the dead names of the faithful high in the incensed air, light prayers beneath them till the altar burns with words. The nave knows their smoke, remembers our memories of them. The chancel recants our absence from their lives until we live again in the space at the rail beside them, these . . . . Continue Reading »

Monthly Communion

From the October 1998 Print Edition

At church, the man touches his lover’s hand: two crisscrossed in the cross, signing symbols in unison. They are unhappy with Worship, the servings up of Christ: too scattered to soothe their weekly palates. At the potluck afterwards, they steam, recite the Last Supper like apostles replaying the . . . . Continue Reading »