Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine and the author of God Is Love, Spirited Men, and The Wet Engine. This very talented essayist is a firm believer that writing is a form of contemplation and a form of prayer. He sums up this vocation as "thrashing toward light with a sharp pen." In the opening essay titled "I Believe," Doyle states:
"I believe that there is a mysterious and graceful and miraculous Coherence stitched through this world.
"I believe that this life is an extraordinary gift, a blink of bright light between vast darknesses.
"I believe that the fingerprints of the Maker are everywhere: children, hawks, water.
"I believe that even sadness and tragedy and evil are part of that Mind we cannot comprehend but only thank, a Mind especially to be thanked, oddly, when it is most inscrutable…
"I believe that everything is prayer…
"I believe that love is our greatest and hardest work."
To journey with Doyle through his days is to accompany an alert soul who is always on the lookout for revelations and epiphanies. In a stab at empathy, he is capable of imagining Hitler as "a scrawny little boy swinging on swings, sitting in a classroom chewing a pencil." The author salutes the grace given by a friend at a table. "We are part of a Mystery we do not understand, and we are grateful." Doyle likes to think of grace "arriving like an ambulance, a just-in-time delivery, an invisible divine cavalry cresting a hill of troubles, a bolt of jazz from the glittering horn of the Creator." Whether writing about the Mass, making the sign of the Cross, or praying for a sick friend, Doyle illuminates Catholic faith and practice. He greases everything with imagination and it all comes out smoothly. Doyle writes about saving a giant mosquito, and in another essay pays tribute to a sparrow as "a small vigorous prayer, a hymn with wings, a smile given life and set aloft." These essays are bound to bring some lilt into your life. And that, of course, is what revelations and epiphanies do as well.