June 12, 2022 – Niles, MI
I am delighted to have an essay included in this exciting new book! To view the Kickstarter page, please click here.
Death’s Garden Revisited Relationships with Cemeteries is an anthology of personal essays about how the authors connect with cemeteries and graveyards.
Editor Loren Rhoads is the author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She’s blogged about cemeteries as travel destinations since 2011 at CemeteryTravel.com. She’s also written about cemeteries for Legacy.com, the Daily Beast, Gothic.Net, Gothic Beauty, Mental Floss, the Cemetery Club, the Horror Writers Association, and so much more. She’s been a member of the Association for Gravestone Studies for more than 20 years.
Cemetery writers/Genealogists/Historians: Anne Born, Barbara Baird, Carrie Sessarego, Carole Tyrrell, Erika Mailman, J’aime Rubio, Jo Nell Huff, Joanne M. Austin, Rachelle Meilleur, Sharon Pajka, Trilby Plants
Horror authors: A. M. Muffaz, Angela Yuriko Smith, Christine Sutton, Denise N. Tapscott, E. M. Markoff, Emerian Rich, Frances Lu-Pai Ippolito, Francesca Maria, Greg Roensch, Mary Rajotte, Melodie Bolt, Priscilla Bettis, Rena Mason, Robert Holt, R. L. Merrill, Saraliza Anzaldua, Stephen Mark Rainey, and Trish Wilson.
A few years ago, I do not want to remember the exact date, the local church authorities decided it was time for a change at our home church. It was part of a system of changes where some congregations were left homeless and others were forced to share each other’s company the way telephone party lines brought strangers together in the 1960s. It was wrenching.
We’d come to think of this church as our spiritual home even though I doubt I would have put it that way at the time. We took everything for granted. We wanted the similar, the familiar, the reliable, the expected. That’s what churches give you. You always know what to expect, and that is comforting the same way it’s comforting to know all the words to Hey Jude. You just know how it ends and you can suspend the craziness and the upheaval of everyday life in New York for a minute because you can predict the future.
I would guess the priests knew something was coming. I would guess, at first, they expected the church authorities would take their sense of an inclusive, caring community into account when deciding what was going to happen next. But I was blindsided. The new administrator was a priest foreign to everything I had known from the Church over decades of going to Mass.
He was abrupt. He was rude. He made fun of people in the congregation. He’d ask at the end of Mass, “Is anyone here for the first time?” and when anyone would say, “Yes, I’m here from Buffalo or Denver or Houston,” he’d crack a joke about how they were now better off here than wherever they had said they were from. He said we were all welcome by naming the ways other people divide us: gay, straight, divorced, married, single. We had come into the church like tiny lit votives, all the same, all together, and suddenly we were a member of a group that is not like another group. We’d been set off and away from each other by our category.
And he intruded on the sacred space of the other priests. During the Mass of another priest, he would come onto the altar, interrupt the service, without vestments, and recount what we could all read in the church bulletin. All the while, the priest who had been saying Mass was relegated to sitting quietly, subserviently, until he was finished with the bulletin and the stand-up routine that followed. “Who’s here for the first time?” “Oh, now you’ve truly been saved!” Yuck, yuck, yuck.
I became an itinerant Catholic. I followed the former pastor downtown to his new parish and saw him a handful of times. And I went to two other churches to catch up with another one of the priests, but the routine and the comfort were gone.
Until last week.
This new priest abruptly retired and was then summarily removed from his ministry by the same church authorities who placed him in my church in the first place. I was stunned. We all were stunned. At Mass there this morning, a woman was in tears and the head of the parish council mentioned there would be a service of prayer on Tuesday. They even remembered this priest during the prayers on the altar. “Change is difficult” was the clear message. There had been serious allegations of his abusing authority.
Immediately, I wanted to be able to go back to the church I had left. I’m sure the parishioners at Notre Dame in Paris want nothing more than to do that as well. And while I can hardly compare handling the imposition of an unsympathetic priest to the fire that claimed the roof in Paris, it’s that routine I associate with the former pastor that I grieve.
I sat there for a few minutes after Mass this morning, trying to fill in the blanks. How was I really feeling, could I find my way back to this church after having left it, did I still need a church home, or was my itinerant Mass-going sufficient? I don’t know.
It’s going to take a while to find the answers. But isn’t that what a church is supposed to do?
Thank you to the lovely people who have written kind things about our new book!
Buen Camino! Tips from an American Pilgrim – available on Amazon, B&N, and by special order at your favorite independent bookseller.
All are FIVE STARS!
Great motivation book for the Camino de Santiago
PorCliente Amazonel 20 de enero de 2018
I really liked this book by Anne Born on the Camino de Santiago and was surprised how easy it is to read. Even though it is an information book, the story really flows and the anedocts are really interesting. I was able to go 3 times on the Camino this year, last time end of October. But this book made me want to go back as soon as possible 🙂
A wonderful book that transports you to Spain and then is your companion throughout!
ByKarenon 3 February 2018
Anne writes a delightful book that is a joy to read. She wets your appetite if like me you have never been a pilgrim and give you a mountain of helpful information that you would need for your trip. It is written in a warm style, offering you the opportunity to think about taking some time out from a busy life to walk, providing yourself with ample opportunity to relax, reflect and contemplate. Highly recommended to pilgrims and non-pilgrims alike.
A Small Gem Of A Guide To Walking The Camino
ByJ. Haskinson January 1, 2018
“Let me start by saying I love this book. It is interesting and informative and a wonderful read whether you are planning to walk the Camino soon, or are like me, thinking about putting it on your “Maybe One Day” list.
Anne Born’s voice is so warm and friendly it often reads like a memoir, but it is full of useful information. Anne covers everything you need to know right down to avoiding blisters and what to use if you get them. (Neosporin, Chapstick, and a nice big bandage)
She talks about why someone might want to do this, (there are so many varied reasons) and how to make it happen. She offers advice and information in a way you feel like you are sitting across the table from her.
In the chapter, “What Do I Need?” Anne leaves nothing out. Including the poignant reason you need to bring a small rock. (No spoilers)
I started reading this book and finished it the same day. I marveled at how much information Anne packed into such a small book with such a friendly, yet reverent tone.
The glossary at the end is very helpful to understand some of the unfamiliar words and how to pronounce them correctly.
Anne’s personal journey walking the Camino is fascinating and truly a joy to read. I heartily recommend this guide for the Pilgrim-To Be and the Wannabe-Pilgrim as well.
There is so much here to love.”
I loved the organization of the book and the simple titles …
ByAnonymouson January 6, 2018
“Anne Born has compiled a fundamental consolidation of all things one should know when planning a long walk across a country…not in an encyclopedic format, but as thoughtfully presented factual categories of information for your consideration and tidbits to inspire AND keep things in perspective. I loved the organization of the book and the simple titles of each chapter. Can’t get lost here! And you know exactly to where you should return when wanting to “read that part again”.
Once you’ve completed Buen Camino! you can go forward searching for more detail or other opinions, should you feel the need and Anne leads you to those resources.
Prior to my first camino, I craved all specifics about the camino, over and over again. Redundancy seemed soothing and Buen Camino! feeds this need. Anne has approached this book from the perspective of “A Day in the Life of a Peregrino”. So helpful ….and calming.
As a 36 day pilgrim trekker on my inaugural, followed 2 years later by a short 5 day journey from Samos to SdC and a 15 day hospitalera assignment in Ribadiso, I consider myself experienced enough. In Buen Camino! I learned more than a dozen tips I wish I had known prior to my first step, perhaps before I had bought my plane ticket. Glad to know them now as there are always caminos on the horizon!
I recommend this book for returning pilgrims, first timers and your family members to understand what is ahead for a pilgrims’ journey. Get your highlighter out and enjoy!”
A Must Read
ByStacey A. Quartaroon January 24, 2018
“I loved this book! It is informative and provides lots of helpful details for anyone thinking of taking a pilgrimage. Of particular interest to me were all the personal anecdotes spread through the book from Anne’s many trips to the Camino (and it was noteworthy that one can experience the Camino in a variety of ways). A must read!!!”
The Late Orphan Project is reopening for submissions starting November 2, 2016. Essays, journal entries, poetry, theater – all will be considered as long as the theme supports the Project.
The Project – to encourage writers to discuss the death of your parents. The easy story is to write about what happened. My mother’s long history with depression, my father’s heart ailments – easy to write because they tell a story that happened. This happened, that happened, and then they died. What the Project tries to do is not to discuss the details of the death or what led up to the death but rather what happened next?
How did this loss impact you?
When your mother or father dies, the impact is considerably stronger than other deaths in the family and the impact is frequently unpredictable.
How are you changed? What did you learn? When you picked up your life again, how was it different, or better, or worse? How did you chart your life without your parents?
What the Late Orphan Project was able to do in the first volume of stories was to show that the most personal story displays the most universal truths. The reader understands and feels empathy with the writer and the writers can sometimes find closure or healing or a deeper understanding of the events that followed the deaths.
This is not a sad project even though the stories will likely make you cry. Rather it is a celebration of real life through the telling of these very difficult stories.
Submission deadlines – November 2 to December 2, 2016.
Guidelines – All entries should be approximately 1000-1500 words.Shorter pieces will be considered but longer ones may not. One entry per person please. Stories should be accompanied by the following:
1) A 6-line author bio, written in 3rd person.
2) The name of the mother or father in the story, including birth and death dates and geographic location.
3) The word SUBMISSION in the subject line of the email.
4) All submissions to email@example.com
5) Identify please if your story has been published previously with a note that you have secured permission for The Backpack Press to republish if you story is selected.
If you have questions about submissions or the Project in general, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Long crazy day
busy hectic stupid kind of day
where you just need a time out.
I found an empty church on the east side,
and watched the sacristan clean up the votive candles,
cleaning out the spent ones,
sweeping a bit.
I’ve been looking for a place. I need a place where I can sit when I need to shut out whatever is chasing me. So I have started interviewing churches to see if any one of these lovely buildings has what I am looking for. It’s a longshot because I am not really sure what I am looking for, but I thought maybe I would line up the things that appeal to me in churches to see what my place looks like, at least.
That’s a start.
These were taken at Blessed Sacrament Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. It’s a 1920’s jewel box of a church, designed by an architect with a degree from Columbia University, who fashioned the upper gallery after La Sainte Chapelle in Paris.
Like the very best Gothic churches, this one soars. You sit on that wonderful warm wood and you can’t help but look up and that lightens me.
This historic Michigan church is where I was baptized, where I made my First Communion, where I was confirmed – it will always be sanctuary. But the difference here is that I am surrounded by ghosts in this church. I find it hard to concentrate because I look up to the gallery and remember singing in the choir, or I look at the statue of Mary wearing the May flower crown and a handful of grade school May processions surround me.
The parish itself goes back to the first French missionaries who came to convert the Pottawattamie and Miami tribes in this area of the north central Midwest.
Sometimes it’s just a detail that provides me with the calm or the solitude or the cover I need. This stunning staircase is one of a pair in St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia. The tiles are by the Guastavino tile factory which provided a clever medieval solution to decorating with brick.
And sometimes it’s the fabulous stained glass that lends the feeling of calm, of comfort, of mercy when I need it, like here at the Church of St. Thomas More on the Upper East Side.
We are so fortunate in New York to have such a vast variety of holy spaces – even when they are under construction, you can find sometimes, just what you are looking for. Even if you can’t put your finger on it. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is in the middle of a very serious renovation, both inside and out.
Another jewel box is this very solemn, very serious St. Vincent Ferrer, just south of Hunter College. This is one of the few places where I focus on a particular thing when come in and sit down, when I want to slow down and get into better focus – it’s that wonderful reredos, the wood screen in the back of the altar.
Some New York churches are very large, like St. Bartholomew on Park Avenue. It is remarkably consoling, extending a very gracious welcome to me every time I go there. This photo was taken on Holy Saturday when I just needed to drop out of sight for 10 minutes.
The banners, the stone and wood floors, the system of arched openings, and the glass backdrop make this a place to examine at some length. I am fascinated by the interplay of surfaces and the way they feel when you touch them – the stone is cold, the wood warmer, and the smell of the thin paper and ink in the prayer books make for a more sensory experience here. That’s the thing about the fancy places – they have so many different materials and important items that taking the inventory can be more distracting than anything.
And then, there is that one place that sets the bar for every other place. For me, it is a cathedral in Spain that I would visit every day if I could. I step in and can feel its history. St. Francis of Assisi came here and left his walking staff. It’s part of one of the columns up front. And the remains of the Apostle James are housed here in the crypt. It is the focus of over a thousand years of pilgrimage across northern Spain to the city of Santiago de Compostela where I attended a Mass in the evening where I saw the woman with the white mantilla.
But since I am describing churches, I feel obligated to identify my favorite. I come back to this church whenever I am in Paris and it’s always the same. I walk in and up the side, with tourists and visitors from all over the world and I feel like it’s my church and they are just looking. I get this place. And I think it gets me.
The rumor is that if you are a political refugee or criminal, you can run into a church and claim sanctuary so the long arm of the law – if it finds you at all – will find you just out of reach. You can’t leave, of course, but you can’t be taken either. I think that’s comforting.
I keep that in the back of my mind. If I am on the lam, I will look for a church. One with a nice bathroom and air conditioning in July and August. In the meanwhile, even though I can’t really say what it is I am looking for, I am finding it in these beautiful spaces.