Issue 531 | Correspondence | The Sun Magazine


I connected with Christine Marshall’s essay “The Cat Years” [January 2020]. Like Marshall, I suffered through multiple miscarriages. During that time, all I could see around me were fertile women and their healthy, beautiful babies.

I stopped trying to get pregnant because I was nearing the age of forty and couldn’t afford fertility treatments, and because the constant losses were taking a toll on my emotional health. Now, almost ten years later, I am happy, but it took time, perspective, and hard work. Every so often, though, a twinge of loss flickers.

This kind of writing is why I subscribe to The Sun.

M. Thompson Broomfield, Colorado

I can’t begin to tell you how much “Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation” [January 2020] meant to me. Meditation is a struggle, but Sparrow shone a new — and humorous — light on it. It doesn’t make sense! It does make sense! It’s OK! It’s like two discos going on in your head, as Sparrow says.

Sandi Mosden Fort Bragg, California

I was afraid Sparrow was going to treat meditation with his glib sense of humor, but he was humorous and respectful — and seems completely devoted to the practice. I do think it’s good to meditate for more than “three or four minutes,” but he seems to have figured that out for himself. Maybe his readers will, too.

David Guy Durham, North Carolina

My heart has been completely opened by the writing in your January 2020 issue. I loved “Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation,” and Brian Doyle’s essay “Joyas Voladoras” [Dog-Eared Page] made me fall to my knees with praise and worship. I wish I could tell him this, but I trust many others did before his death in 2017.

Bonnie Joyce Myrtle Point, Oregon

Though it’s always a good day when a new issue of The Sun arrives, it’s icing on the cake when Sparrow is a contributor.

Sparrow is the big brother I never had. He sits on the empty twin bed, home from college, and explains the world to me: Here’s how it works. Here’s what you’ve been missing. In “Sparrow’s Guide to Meditation,” he explains the obstreperousness of the unquiet mind and whispers, Don’t worry, it will all come clear to you. And even when it doesn’t, it’s all good.

His voice lingers in the room. There’s still an imprint on the bed. Don’t worry, I hear. Don’t worry.

Rob Neukirch Floyd, Virginia

To Name Withheld [Correspondence, January 2020], who demanded The Sun issue an apology to all Christians for publishing Etheridge Knight’s poem “Feeling Fucked Up” [Dog-Eared Page, September 2019]: Please speak for yourself only. As a Christian minister, I read Knight’s impassioned plea to have his lover back and felt my heart break open. His poem aches with the knowledge of what he lost — a loss so complete as to make everything else irrelevant.

In this holiday season, when Christians claim that God came to the world in the form of Jesus — amidst the stench of the stable, to a young, scandalized mother — I am reminded that none of us needs to protect the holiness of God. Instead we would do well to allow poets’ words to break our hearts.

Rev. Amanda Hendler-Voss Dumfries, Virginia

I want to say that I found Etheridge Knight’s poem “Feeling Fucked Up” moving and am glad it was in The Sun. One person’s blasphemy can be another’s holiness.

Barrie Mason Santa Rosa, California

Fred Bahnson’s interview with Barry Lopez [“The World We Still Have,” December 2019] was one of the most in-depth I’ve ever read. My efforts to reimagine my life and the world — and to become an “adult” in my community, in the way of the indigenous elders Lopez described — will forever be enhanced by this interview. I immediately obtained Lopez’s book Horizon and look forward to reading his others.

Terri Brewer Sheffield Lake, Ohio

There are enough important ideas in Fred Bahnson’s interview with Barry Lopez to think about for the rest of your life. The current environmental situation is indeed, as Lopez says, paraphrasing indigenous people, “something that has to be dreamed again.” Lindsay Langhals’s accompanying photo of a backlit buffalo was beautiful.

I would only add something from David Day’s The Doomsday Book of Animals: A Natural History of Vanished Species: “In virtually every professional hunter and trapper I have known, I have encountered extraordinary sentiments and a process of transformation. . . . I have met cougar and bear hunters who, in old age, have turned bitterly away from mankind, have totally identified with the animals they once hunted, and have come, almost physically, to resemble those animals.”

June Fischer Muskego, Wisconsin

Astra Taylor says, “When people say, ‘Trump’s not us,’ I think, Maybe we need to see how he is us, so we can prevent this from happening again” [“An Imperfect Union,” interview by Finn Cohen, November 2019]. This is a stark admission that more folks must come to grips with.

Taylor accurately outlines the obstacles to a real populism based on one person, one vote — especially how the burden of debt restricts our political self-determination. Our real situation is clear: since the concentration of wealth undermines political equality, we must start taxing wealth at the rates it was once taxed.

T. Hannan Los Angeles, California

The subtitle of David Barsamian’s October 2019 interview with Bill McKibben, “Tipping Point: A Planet in Peril,” is not correct. It’s the human race that is in peril because of its ignorance. The planet will rebalance itself with or without us.

I do not see how we can save the human race from the consequences of global warming without addressing its causes: racism, sexism, governmental corruption, severe economic inequality, and so on. All these issues are really a single issue. We are one people on one planet.

K.K. Prescott, Arizona

I’m a little worried about Evan Lavender-Smith. Has anyone told him that staring at screens before trying to fall asleep [“Sleep Study,” October 2019] is one of the most common causes of chronic insomnia?

Ally Hammond Old Town, Maine
Evan Lavender-Smith responds:

Many people have told me this over the years, and at first I didn’t heed their advice. Not long after writing “Sleep Study,” however, I finally did, and my sleep improved dramatically. Why did it take me so long to listen?

I am eighty-eight years old and was awakened at 7:25 this morning by my bladder. At 7:30 I got back in bed, intending to catch an additional half hour’s sleep. Instead I reached for The Sun. That’s when the trouble began.

Your magazine is not conducive to sleep. I started with Readers Write, my favorite section. I told myself I could put the issue down after a few short pieces, but I couldn’t put it down, because before me was another entry, and then another, and another.

I finished Readers Write and moved on to a poem, then Sunbeams, then a short essay, thinking I’d still have plenty of my morning left. Suddenly I saw it was 10:22! I jumped out of bed, took the pill I was supposed to take at 8:00, and began getting ready for the day.

It is now 11:18. I have an appointment at 11:30, and I’m still in my pajamas.

Libby Anderson Haverford, Pennsylvania

After finishing your current issue, I grabbed another from my stack of older ones still waiting to be read. In the Readers Write on “Being Broke,” I came across E.D.’s entry about buying groceries to make dinner for friends, and having to pay with nickels and pennies. A stranger in the checkout line said something nice to the author, and after E.D. returned to her car, she sat sobbing. The stranger approached, took E.D.’s hand, and pressed a twenty-dollar bill into it, and then another. I was almost in tears. The location listed under E.D.’s signature was Paradise, California. The issue was dated May 2018, five months before the wildfire there. Now my tears weren’t “almost.”

Jeff Vaughn Encino, California
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