confession

personal narratives

Days Like Dominoes

Days Like Dominoes

My thoughts these days are fraught, frazzled little things still precious even though they are as clumsy and malleable as the playdough jewels my daughter likes to shape. 

Stranger Prayer Image

Stranger Prayer

Until the pandemic hit, I hadn’t prayed in nearly two decades.

oak-leaves

How We Are Holding

I keep turning to trees these dead-of-February, unending pandemic days.

Photo Credit Amanda Waldroupe

To Breathe for A Spell

I have never been more aware of my breath, of the simple act of breathing, than I have in this last year. The ability to inhale air and exhale carbon dioxide and other gases is a bodily function I rarely give thought to.

Raking__Hope-emily-ruth-mace

Raking Hope

This simple act of caring for my home in order to prepare for winter feels like an absurd act of hope.

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Sometimes You Want to Go

If only we could find a way to live together.

the-wrong-tape-block-sale

The Wrong Tape

I never did learn why that tape was hidden inside a Disney box at a block sale. But there is something both very wrong and very apropos about what happened.

A giant inflatable colon, for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Holy Shit

I thought: What would the rabbis say about the giant inflatable colon? As a colon cancer survivor, will I ever see shit as just shit again?

Killing the Buddha

The Dust of Us

I love walking around with a sign of dying on my face.

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Blossoms (Hadeish Yameinu)

How do I reclaim a holiday of liberation when I feel like I’ve spent the last year entrapped by a frightening cloud of uncertainty?

old-men-chatting

Meditating with My Father’s Friends

We were all there for the same purpose—to understand our own suffering and maybe find some relief.

fireflies

End-of-Life Lullaby

Grieving is a lit cave.

hardtolove

Dear Flannery

Letters to friends, God, and Ms. O’Connor. Republished in honor of Briallen’s first book, Hard To Love: Essays And Confessions, out today from Bloomsbury.

historyofprotest

A History of Protest: Learning to Leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Leaving the Witnesses can be a delicate, protracted affair. Not everyone can quietly disappear, like I did.

EmilyNativity

When Wax Softens, Light Shines Through

Purchasing the little nativity scene convinced me that I had unfinished business with the religion of my youth.

lemminggod

I Was A Teenage Lemming God

A harmless rodent with vast existential consequences.

CelebrateTheDeath

Celebrate the Death

Dust to dust, the stuff of us, before and after life.

evangelicalanxiety

Evangelical Anxiety

We did not do therapy. “Psychoheresy,” some called it.