Open Book: Welcoming Spring

Welcoming spring, observing Lent: it’s a season of new books for me.

I often select a familiar devotional to read during Lent, and sure enough, there’s Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ in this year’s rotation. I’ve added a work of fiction that’s a stretch for me on several counts: Silence by Shūsako Endō, first published in 1997, translated from Japanese by William Johnston. The story of a handful of Portuguese priests and the Japanese people they evangelized in the seventeenth century is painfully illuminating. What does it mean to be a missionary and an apostate (a word seldom heard in my neck of the woods)? What is Christian witness? How do Christian neophytes grow in faith – sometimes to astonishing degrees – when priests are scarce and persecution is everywhere? I’m still in the midst of the book, and already I know it will leave me with even more questions. It’s a beautiful work, understated rather then melodramatic, difficult but not obscure.

Book cover for "Silence" by Shusaku Endo

I’m loving the fresh look at Dorothy Day in a book by Kate Hennessy, her granddaughter, who writes like a dream. Dorothy Day: the World Will Be Saved by Beauty is subtitled “an intimate portrait of my grandmother.”

Book cover of "Dorothy Day: the World Will Be Saved by Beauty" by Kate Hennessy

I’m not sticking to spiritual fare this month. I’ve just finished Carl Bernsteins’s memoir Chasing History: A Kid In the Newsroom. Anyone of my generation will remember Bernstein’s journalistic partnership with Bob Woodward, but I know younger readers might not know of him. I recommend Chasing History to one and all, whether familiar with Bernstein or not. The book covers the first years of Bernstein’s professional life, beginning as a high school student who was much more interested in journalism than in classwork. He brings the now-defunct Washington Star newspaper to life for readers of this generation. He writes with a sharp eye for events and with affectionate memory for the pros who served as his mentors and co-workers. I read this for fun – and learned a thing or two while I was at it.

book cover of "Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom" by Carl Bernstein

#OpenBook is a monthly blog linkup by Carolyn Astfalk, featuring a roundup of bloggers and the books they’re exploring.

“We all have a personal stake”: Manchester launches 40 Days for Life, Spring 2022

A few notes on the kickoff rally for Manchester, NH’s latest 40 Days for Life campaign:

How many times did I take these launch rallies for granted, pre-Covid? Pandemic precautions kept indoor meetings to a minimum over the past couple of years. State and municipal restrictions and recommendations are easing. Gathering at St. Thomas parish hall in Derry with other 40 Days for Life supporters last weekend felt like an exceptional celebration. It was good to greet neighbors old and new.

Althea Ansah could have spent twice as much time at the microphone, and I still would have wanted to hear more from her. She’s a former Student for Life leader at UNH, and now she’s a WIC nutritionist and a volunteer with New Hampshire Right to Life. 

She said that as a high school student, she had been supportive of abortion, seeing it as an aspect of women’s rights. As she learned more about fetal development, abortion took on another meaning. “It was like a light bulb went off.” Once at UNH, “my walls broke down.” She described going to the national March for Life in 2020 and feeling overwhelmed at seeing so many people coming together to support families. 

Now, she values the many roles people have in pro-life work: legislation, prayer, apologetics, reducing the demand for abortions, and – “my favorite” – providing supportive services for people in need. There’s work for everyone. “We all have a personal stake in abortion.”

Read the full post at Leaven for the Loaf. Read more about 40 Days for Life at 40daysforlife.com.

Sharing Winter Trails

This post first appeared on The New Hampshire Rail Trail Coalition’s website. Photo and text by Ellen Kolb.

New Hampshire’s multi-use rail trails don’t take a season off. Winter is a time for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Some rail trails are snowmobile trails as well, and this is a time to thank the snowmobile clubs whose members help maintain the trails for everyone’s benefit. 

Rockingham Recreational Trail in Auburn New Hampshire, snow-covered, with trail sign
Rockingham Recreational Trail, Auburn NH

After a generous snowfall, it’s tempting to grab snowshoes and head to the nearest trailhead. Once you get there, if you’re using one of the rail trails open to snowmobiles, you’re likely to see a sign telling you which local club handles trail grooming. Keep an eye out for the grooming machines that create a path of compacted snow along the trail – and wave to the driver!

Keep in mind a little bit of trail etiquette. Snowmobilers will stick to the rail trails marked for their use, and will be mindful of non-motorized skiers and hikers. Where cross-country ski tracks are present, snowshoers and hikers will walk next to rather than on top of them. Slower traffic always stays to the right. 

With courtesy and good humor, everyone can enjoy wintertime shared use of the rail trails. Look for one near you, and enjoy the snow.

For more about New Hampshire trails, visit Ellen’s Granite State Walker blog.