Iris Graville's Blog (29)

To Become a White Ally

The sun was setting on the August night my husband and I tuned our television to an empty courtroom in Ferguson, Missouri. Along with thousands of other Americans, we awaited the verdict of the grand jury’s review of police officer Darren Wilson’s actions in the death of Michael Brown. Finally, Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch read for several minutes from a statement that acquitted Officer Wilson.

I found the jury’s decision hard to believe, despite McCulloch’s detailed account…


Added by Iris Graville on 1st mo. 10, 2015 at 3:06pm — No Comments

Veterans Day

As a pacifist, I don’t know what to do about Veterans Day. On this year’s November 11, I drove down the main street of a town that is home to a naval air station. Five days earlier I’d travelled that same route the opposite direction on my way to a writing workshop. That morning, winds had gusted at 35-45 miles per hour and whipped the American flags that lined the street in a wild dance.



Added by Iris Graville on 11th mo. 19, 2014 at 1:15pm — No Comments

Book Review: “Miracle Motors—A Pert Near True Story"

Some people go to the woods or the mountains to encounter the Divine. They seek the quiet to listen for the “still, small voice.” Peggy Senger Morrison, though, has some of her best conversations with God while driving a Kawasaki motorcycle named Rosie. She writes about them and other adventures in her new book,…


Added by Iris Graville on 10th mo. 28, 2014 at 1:41pm — No Comments

Inward Activism—Outward Prayer

Every morning before I unroll my yoga mat, I have to resist the urge to go online to check the headlines in the New York Times. I catch myself creeping toward the email in- box before I settle into my rocker for a time of meditative journaling. It’s as if I’m on both ends of a tug-of-war rope, pushed and pulled by inward and outward action. It’s not a new struggle for me; I wrote about it here three years ago in my post …


Added by Iris Graville on 10th mo. 15, 2014 at 2:45pm — 4 Comments

Writing the Quotidian

Quotidian.  I read that word in an essay I critiqued during my first semester in my MFA in writing program. I had to look it up.  Ironically, it’s a fancy word for something that’s not, well, very fancy.  Here’s how the New Oxford American Dictionary defines it:


quotidian |kwōˈtidēən|

adjective [ attrib. ]

  • of or occurring every day; daily : the car sped noisily off through the quotidian…

Added by Iris Graville on 4th mo. 19, 2013 at 3:28pm — No Comments

Design Flaws

On a recent New Yorker podcast, writer Tony Earley read and discussed Robert Maxwell's short story, "Love."  It’s not what you think. Well, the story is about love, the love of a young boy for his fifth-grade teacher. Even more, it’s about…


Added by Iris Graville on 3rd mo. 27, 2013 at 12:49pm — No Comments


Grounded.  That’s the word I heard over and over at a recent Quaker Silent Retreat. During introductions before we entered into forty hours of silence, many of the twenty people in attendance said they had come with a hope of getting grounded. Many spoke of the annual retreat as a time to regain the Center that had been subsumed by work, causes, studies, care for…


Added by Iris Graville on 2nd mo. 19, 2013 at 5:34pm — No Comments


“Happy Birthday,” I croaked to friends being honored at a party recently. Four days earlier, my head cold had turned into laryngitis. My throat burned from days of coughing, and when I tried to talk, all that came out was a squeak.  But I didn’t want to miss this celebration to honor three friends with November birthdays, so I went to the potluck and uttered few words.
There’s nothing like laryngitis to give you a lesson in…

Added by Iris Graville on 11th mo. 30, 2012 at 12:40am — 1 Comment

Book Review - Staying True

As far as I’m concerned, the world could use a few more spiritual memoirs. A lot more people of faith writing about their spiritual journeys.  Fortunately, lifelong Quaker Lynn Waddington did just that during the final two years of her life. And her partner, Margaret Sorrel, labored through her own grief after Lynn’s death to bring this story to print in Staying…


Added by Iris Graville on 10th mo. 15, 2012 at 8:06pm — No Comments

Revealing the Bones of Truth

A new edition of Juliet Barker’s 1994 biography, The Brontës, tells a story about Branwell, the brother of Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

In 1834, Branwell began to study painting with a member of the Royal Academy of Art. The student painter sketched a portrait of his sisters and penciled his face in among theirs. When it came time to paint, he…


Added by Iris Graville on 9th mo. 26, 2012 at 11:52am — No Comments

The Largest Clearness Committee in the History of Quakerism

The subject line of a recent e-mail from Friend Jon Watts caught my attention:  Can I Continue to Be A Musician? 


This Quaker singer and songwriter explained he’s at a crossroads after four years of ministry through music and the success of his latest album, “Clothe Yourself in Righteousness.”  Even more than any of his previous works, Jon’s latest explores faithful Quaker practice and serious transformation.  He’s had great turnouts at concerts and good sales of his music. …


Added by Iris Graville on 9th mo. 15, 2012 at 3:04pm — No Comments

Worship-Sharing Through Song

 Early Quakers likely would have been shaking their heads if they’d attended meeting with me last Sunday. Some present-day Friends might find my meeting’s last-Sunday-of-the-month practice peculiar, too. That’s when, instead of an hour of unprogrammed worship, people of all ages in our group worship through song.

 Singer and song-writer Peter Blood understands singing and worship. He and his partner, Annie Patterson, co-created Rise…


Added by Iris Graville on 8th mo. 28, 2012 at 12:22pm — No Comments

Closer to Each Other Than Language Allows

People think of Quakers as loving, peaceful, friendly types (our full name is, after all, the Religious Society of Friends).  And we are all of those things. We’re also human—full of imperfections, confusion, and fear. We don’t all see things in the same way, and our history shows that sometimes those differing views have torn us apart. This week, one branch of the diverse…


Added by Iris Graville on 7th mo. 28, 2012 at 3:31pm — 1 Comment

Occupy as a Spiritual Act

My rural island home in Washington State couldn’t be much further—geographically or culturally­—from Manhattan’s Wall Street.  Last fall, when the first actions of Occupy Wall Street began, the movement seemed like an abstraction to me. After hearing Madeline Schaeffer’s podcast at Friend Speaks My Mind,…


Added by Iris Graville on 6th mo. 21, 2012 at 12:20pm — No Comments

Walking in Circles

“Our lives are an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn. That there is no end in nature but every end is a beginning.”

                                                              ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spent part of May 5 walking in circles. Sometimes such…


Added by Iris Graville on 5th mo. 12, 2012 at 12:04pm — 1 Comment

Afterthought #4 - Pilgrimage to Manzanar

(The main Manzanar Pilgrimage event in 2011 | Photo: Zach Behrens/KCET)

     Last month I blogged about the 70th anniversary of the opening of Manzanar, a concentration camp in southern…

Added by Iris Graville on 4th mo. 30, 2012 at 3:12pm — 3 Comments


Conflict. Disagreement. Opposing viewpoints. I don’t much like any of them, especially when they involve me and those I’m in relationship with. Some people tell me they like controversy, spirited opposition, debate and argument. They say it energizes them, excites them, gets their juices flowing. All that conflict does for me is make my stomach churn.


So, at Meeting last Sunday, when our Worship-Sharing time focused on queries about…


Added by Iris Graville on 3rd mo. 8, 2012 at 12:36pm — 3 Comments

The Job of the Writer

Ten years ago, I printed up business cards with the title Writer under my name thinking that if that’s what the card says, that’s what I am.  Now, I don't have to read that card to know that writing is my job, but some days, at the end of a writing session, I’ll leave my desk with doubts about whether I’m called to this work. Well aware of the needs and problems crying…


Added by Iris Graville on 2nd mo. 24, 2012 at 12:58pm — No Comments

A Little Bit of Wisdom

The last day of Spring Residency for my writing program (Northwest Institute of Literary Arts), guest faculty Kathleen Dean Moore talked with the Craft of Nonfiction class about writing essays.  A philosophy professor at Oregon State University, Kathleen writes prose that questions…


Added by Iris Graville on 2nd mo. 14, 2012 at 1:05pm — 2 Comments

Afterthought #1

    A writing friend, Charlotte Morganti, blogs regularly at Morganti Writes. Most Fridays she posts an “Itty Bitty”— typically a quote or anecdote and a few words of her own reflection. They often inspire me as I head into the weekend.
      Charlotte’s Itty Bitties remind me of a practice in some Quaker meetings of a time for “Afterthoughts.”  After meeting for worship ends, silence continues for a few more minutes during which members…

Added by Iris Graville on 1st mo. 31, 2012 at 2:19pm — No Comments

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