Guest Post–“Big Bend” by Cynthia Sample from Steel Toe Review

My good friend Cynthia Sample published this wonderful piece on Steel Toe Review. It’s a wry, self-deprecating look at the way parents sometimes try to manipulate their children into being OK–in our eyes.  It comes with a humorous dose of Southern evangelical fervor…


By Cynthia Sample

My husband insists on adventures. So here I am: packing for a place I know about in theory, not in fact. My prayer-time literature fits into the bottom of a new black duffle bag: my Bible, two daily devotionals and The Imitation of Christ, which I’m reading for Lent. My purse is big enough for the trade paperbacks I’m working through: Nouwen, O’Conner, Merton and Lewis.

“Why are you taking all that?” He folds shirts and shorts made of drab parachute-like fabric and tucks them into his own well-worn duffle bag. Something bright-colored emerges from a paper sack in his hand. “For you!” Women’s versions of his shirts, but in turquoise and red, a pair of pants that fit me perfectly in charcoal grey—these have zip-off legs to make shorts. “In case we get hot on our hikes,” he explains. He produces a nylon holder with a belt loop. “For water. Need it on the trails.”

I yank the tags off the clothes, fold them on top of the books. “I forgot to get a camera,” I say. Who wants to be recorded looking like a fool?

“What’s new?” He laughs, continues to fold and tuck. “It’s okay. We’ll get a disposable on the way. That way we can share the trip with the girls. You could take notes even, do a travel journal sort of a thing. We really are going at the perfect time. Davis says that the foliage should be in bloom now. Not too cool; not too hot. Desert and mountains – you’re going to love Big Bend. Too bad the girls won’t go.”


I’m always trying to give religion to our two prodigal reprobates, and here he is, proposing travelogues, but the Bible speaks of nature teaching about God, so I retrieve a blank spiral notebook from a bottom drawer. Maybe I can insert Bible verses or quotes or something.

The prodigals think of God as a kind of gas—vaguely infecting everything, even rocks.  READ MORE..

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