In the Grips of Letting Go

    A solitary green tree on a green meadow against a cloudy blue sky.

    Posted on July 24, 3023 by Jenn Zatopek

    A few weeks before it happened my husband and I were at Book People in Austin where I felt drawn to read Joan Didion’s memoir The Year of Magical Thinking. The booksellers described the story in a small placard on the shelf where the book lay in an obscure corner upstairs. After reading how Didion lost her husband and almost lost her adult daughter within five months of each other, I was hooked. This is a woman who knows suffering and isn’t afraid of it, I thought to myself. She will be a good companion if the very worst happens.**

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    The Queer Joy of Belonging

    Posted on June 30, 2023 by Jenn Zatopek

    On the first weekend in June, my partner and I served communion at our friendly LGBTQIA+ church and my heart touched the marvelous love of God in our beloved community. As a queer Christian, I took great joy in serving alongside my husband, he breaking the bread while I held the cup of salvation for anyone to receive this life-changing meal: tall drag queens and kindhearted lesbians, smiling trans folx and earnest allies, bashful children and beautiful gender non-binary friends, and dearly beloveds all across the beautiful queer spectrum, all welcomed into the loving arms of God, including my cherished queer self. . .

    I’d love it if you clicked here and read the rest over at Red Letter Christians

    Image: My friends from Galileo Church, Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.

    Leaving My Mother Behind

    The place where I marked the leaving. At the Crags trailhead with trees and granite amid a blue sky.


    Posted on May 22, 2023 by Jenn Zatopek

    At the height of summer in the pandemic, I went to the mountains to leave my mother behind. Sometimes with family there are things you have to let go. For years now, I’ve sought to release the toxic narratives of shame my mother gifted me with, and my time up in the mountains was the perfect occasion to mark the leaving.

    The day of leaving dawned cool and brilliant, the Colorado landscape experiencing a tiny respite from the hazy smoke blown in from wildfires as far north as Canada. My partner and I checked the air quality map and our hopes were confirmed: we would take our chances and drive up the picturesque mountain highway to the Crags trailhead and spend the day hiking the fertile wilderness, the northwestern shoulders of Pikes Peak always in our sight. . .

    Please click here to read more over at Story Sanctum

    Image: The place where I marked the leaving, Crags Trail, near Colorado Springs

    The Goodness We Hold

    A field of bluebonnets with towering trees at the back.

    Posted on April 20, 2023 by Jenn Zatopek

    I ended March in a luxurious way–working our tiny bit earth in our front-yard garden. I poured old potting soil over the narrow garden patch, taking dead plants from clay pots and cutting them into small bits for our compost bins. Afterwards, I swept our wrap-around porch and visited the nearby garden store, unsure of which plants to buy but trusting the unfolding process anyway.

    When I arrived, I walked around the garden center, gazing at all the riotous spring color, golden petunias, rosy impatiens, fiery marigolds, and newly green herbs. I was drawn to two kinds of flowers, a tall yellowy-orange variety and stunning violet petunias, but only after I sauntered around with appreciation and something akin to awe. On that day, everyone was cheerful, the shopkeepers greeted us gaily, and a few of us customers exchanged smiles and sighs of pleasure as we bathed in beauty. A wondrous communion of joy.  Read more

    Late-Winter Revelations

    Sandia foothills in New Mexico.

    Posted on February 16, 2023 by Jenn Zatopek

    As we edge closer to spring in the Northern Hemisphere, I’m reflecting on the practice of befriending ourselves, of listening to our bodies with great kindness and care. And since my word for the year is “Rise,” I’m asking myself questions like this: How can I rise above false storylines created by past trauma, stress, and overwhelm and become my most authentic self? What might rising look like in the context of my personal and communal experiences? What does it really mean to rise since we as humans can’t actually fly? Or can we?

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    The Art of Letting Go

    A snowy landscape with a few pine trees amid a bright and sunny day.

    Posted on December 23, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    We have entered into a time of year that feels like liminal space, a sacred threshold between the end of this year and the start of another, one that’s still filled with possibility even amid the devastating losses of another year of living. All of us have survived terrible things but have also experienced bursting moments of goodness, which give us hope and energy for the future. I’ve fallen ill from a nasty head cold which has gifted me with an impromptu respite from the heyday of work, leaving me with more time for solitude and contemplation.

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    Angels Among Us

    A homeless man holding up a sign that says "Seeking human kindness" in a handmade sign with black lettering.


    Posted on December 23, 2022 by Jenn Zatopek

    At the end of a long and grueling summer, my partner and I drove to one of my favorite places: the mobile food pantry that sets up outside at my alma mater, Texas Wesleyan University. Even on one of the hottest days of the year, I packed water, donned my signature cowboy hat, and headed to the east side of town to the parking lot by the old fine arts building, to a place that provides others with much-needed food and fills my soul with another kind of nourishment, one that leaves me smiling for days on end. . .

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

    Image: Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash