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    The Smallest Possible Thing

    GUEST POST FOR COLLEGEVILLE INSTITUTE

    Posted on September 5, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    While out hiking New Year’s Day on the grassy prairies of the Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma, I saw a small toad in a slender crevice of water. The long narrow pool of water was ensconced between two gabbro rocks, solidified roots of ancient volcanoes, formed eons ago when tectonic plates wrestled together on the earth’s shifting surface. The creature had burrowed itself into the grimy sand below the still water and blew bubbles, forming a creamy foam circle the size of a child’s thumb on the water’s surface. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Bearings Online at Collegeville Institute. 

    (Image: The grassy plains of the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge by Jenn Zatopek)

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    Neuroscience Approves of a Holy Imagination

    Cloudy blue sky with distant mountains

    GUEST POST FOR FATHOM

    Posted on June 29, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    Last June on the eve of the summer solstice, I tasted heaven on earth while vacuuming the back bedroom.

    It was before dinner when I stole away to vacuum the house while my family finished cooking dinner. Beginning in the living room, I noticed the handmade wooden shelves my husband created, the setting sun blazing through open shades. As I vacuumed the small bedroom, I entered a little sanctuary: evening light poured onto the creamy quilt on our bed as indigo and lavender filled the darkening sky. I noticed The Lovers painting by Marc Chagall hung splendidly above the bed while the tops of the wooden dressers on the opposite wall held beloved treasures. I paused to examine my labor, and light was all I saw. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Fathom. 

    (Photo by Zack Smith on Unsplash)

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    How to Be a Lighthouse

    An image of a lighthouse on a cliff near the ocean on a sunny day.

    GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE

    Posted on June 29, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    This story begins last year, the year of the novel coronavirus and racial awakenings and climate change prophecies that have marked all of us. On a summer day in our Texas town, with the heat so intense the locals call it “hair dryer weather,” I made a decision to purchase a Black Lives Matter yard sign. It has the famous slogan in a bright white font surrounded by other statements in primary colors that speak of justice and mercy and love, echoing the words of our Old Testament prophets. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest at The Glorious Table. 

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    How to Be Still

    A Monarch butterfly in lavender flowers against a blue sky.

    GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE

    Posted on April 2, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    I am honored to share another essay with you on the power of rest from overwork. How do we unhook our identities from what we do as humans and sink deeply into our own worthiness as eternal, spiritual. beings? Are we solely our output? Does working nonstop help us live fully awake and alive to the endless possibilities around us? Join me over at The Glorious Table as I explore this important issue. And may you have a safe, peaceful, and nourishing Easter and Passover weekend.

    ***

    On a cool fall afternoon at the end of a long week of work, I stumbled upon a story from a popular online Christian magazine that reminded me of trouble from my ancient past: recovery from depression as a pastor’s wife. As I read, unease grew in my belly. Twenty years ago, as a new Christian, a greenhorn in the faith, I longed to be in full-time ministry. After all, I was a brand-new convert, cared deeply about others, and wanted to save everyone I met. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here to read the full essay over at The Glorious Table. 

    (Photo by Justin DoCanto on Unsplash)

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    A Love Letter to the Lost

    GUEST POST FOR PRESBYTERIAN OUTLOOK

    Posted on January 19, 2021 by Jenn Zatopek

    I am thrilled to share my latest essay with you now, a book review of The Long Night, a memoir on depression recovery by first-time author and pastor Jessica Kantrowitz. Given the constant barrage of stress we all face amid surviving a global pandemic, the fallout of white supremacy, and more, I can, without any doubts, highly recommend this book. It is both a literary memoir and a thoughtful resource for persons of faith struggling with depression.

    ***

    Pastor and first-time author Jessica Kantrowitz has written a soulful manual for surviving depression and chronic illness. I wish this were required reading for all to help dispel the terrible myths about depression that poison our beloved community. Her artful memoir “The Long Night” tackles a difficult subject with warmth and deep compassion, filling a great need for the lost and despairing among us. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here to read the full essay at The Presbyterian Outlook

    (Photo by Christian puta on Unsplash)

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    A Different Sort of Advent

    Posted on December 15, 2020 by Jenn Zatopek

    As I pen this Advent reflection, the world rocks in turmoil. Our world is ravaged by the deadly Coronavirus with over 1.1 million dead worldwide. Systemic racism and its practices continue flourishing even as sustained movements like Black Lives Matter push back against these evils. United States President Donald Trump has perpetuated oppressive practices through his vitriolic rhetoric, and many unjust policies have left children separated from their families, Black and Brown bodies dead from violent police brutality, the earth worn down from violent climate policies, the vicious spread of hate on the LGBTQIA2+ communities, lack of proper education and housing resources and other moral failings (to say the least). Read more

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    Out of the Caverns

    [GUEST POST FOR THE GLORIOUS TABLE]

    Posted on October 22, 2020 by Jenn Zatopek

    Earlier this year, I wrote a little essay I loved, which was rejected by several publications. Feeling dejected, I wondered why creating art about an experience before Coronavirus would be deemed irrelevant by editors. It occurred to me, only recently, that it is only irrelevant if I look to others for validation without validating myself first. And thankfully, I no longer need to do that! Their rejections, along with my other curious emotions, became rich loamy soil in the ground of my soul, which, in turn, birthed another essay. And I am delighted to share it with you now. Many thanks to Sarah Cozart, Heather Caliri, Joe Burnham, Lauren White, and my husband for helping with this essay.

    In fear and trembling and so much wonder, I salute us. With courage and amazement, we walk on together.

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