Author: Cheryl Ruffing

Human Nature

In my last post about The Natural History of Love by Diane Ackerman, I mentioned that I often get frustrated with Ackerman’s biases. While that is true (and likely always will be), it does not mean that I find no value in her work. She is a thorough researcher (at least as far as her world view is concerned), she…

A False Self

Today’s meditation in Magnificat was written by Father Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. It kind of blew me away, so I have to keep it around by copying it down here. Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self. This is the man that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because God does not…

Dances with the Daffodils

In one of my early posts here at The Ruff Draft, I shared a William Wordsworth poem about daffodils and was pleasantly surprised to find a comment that contained a book recommendation. Liù wrote: “May I suggest a book inspired by the same poem? Dances with the Daffodils by Matthew Connolly.” I ordered the book right away, but did not pick…

Teachable Moments

Reading books by Diane Ackerman has become an exercise in frustration. While I know that I can just put the thing down and never pick it up again, I keep turning the pages, telling myself that I can learn something. And I do. I learn how other people view the world, why they come to particular conclusions, and how their…

A Southern Sense of Place

There is nothing like reading the work of Southern authors to reinforce the notion that a writer’s sense of place has everything to do with literature. This poem from Allen Tate is a pretty straightforward example: Emblems I Maryland, Viriginia, Caroline Pent images in sleep Clay valleys rocky hills old fields of pine Unspeakable and deep Out of that source…

The Wonder of Light

I’m trying, once again, to work poetry into my life. I’m not writing it. My penchant for that seems to come and go. No, what I’m striving for is reading it—every day. At the moment, I’m focusing on the work of Allen Tate, a Southern author who lived from 1899 to 1979. Today I enjoyed this: Sonnet to Beauty The wonder…

More Than I Bargained For

Sally Mann’s memoir Hold Still is taking me down some densely overgrown paths. Knowing just a smitch about the controversy that swelled over the nude images of Mann’s young children when her book Immediate Family was published in 1992, I was a bit hesitant to start in on Hold Still. Would I learn more than I wanted to know? Was…

Twice as Human

I’ve got three readings of Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor under my belt. It took that many (along with secondary sources) to get to the point where I understand the point of the book—at least I think I do. While I don’t want a book to hit me over the head with its meaning, Flannery’s fiction takes more work to…