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About Duo Dickinson

Writing is too easy for us narcissists. There is the delusion that others care, and worse, care about you—unless none of it is about you, because all of life has been given to you. Being more than three-score years old, husband, father, architect, football player, coach and one of those the dreaded “cradle” Episcopalians, what I offer is fraught with the impossibilities of living up to those gifts. So I write about what is irreconcilable other than through God’s love and grace that passes all understanding. And I steal really good phrases. Often.

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Author Archive

    Lean On Me

    It was 1971 on a 7:38am Niagara Frontier Transit bus going north from downtown Buffalo. The destination was the suburbs 45 minutes away, my private day school. I could have taken the private bus company’s ride that the school offered, but it was a 7am pickup. Buffalo offered free bus passes to all students, so […]

    At Sea

    If my Bark sink ‘Tis to another Sea — Mortality’s Ground Floor Is Immortality — Dickinson, F1250A We are at sea. So far out that there is no shore to sight. There may be a captain, but it does not matter. The sea is calling the shots. The captain can steer the boat, but the […]

    I Am Fat, And I Eat Ice Cream

    We are all forced into circumspection by our present circumstances, and nothing reveals stupid like having the time to fully appreciate it. I ate ice cream last night. The ice cream was not very good. But it was ice cream. The day, like all days now, had been long. I am in the BMI Danger […]

    “This World Is Not Conclusion” (Song of COVID-19)

    By Emily Dickinson:

    This World is not Conclusion.
    A Species stands beyond —
    Invisible, as Music —
    But positive, as Sound —
    It beckons, and it baffles —
    Philosophy — don’t know —
    And through a Riddle, at the last —
    Sagacity, must go —
    To guess it, puzzles scholars —
    To gain it, Men have borne
    Contempt of Generations
    And Crucifixion, shown —
    Faith slips — and laughs, and rallies —
    Blushes, if any see —
    Plucks at a twig of Evidence —
    And asks a Vane, the way —
    Much Gesture, from the Pulpit —
    Strong Hallelujahs roll —
    Narcotics cannot still the Tooth
    That nibbles at the soul —

    – 1862

    As part of the Emily Days series on Saved by Design.

    “Escape from Circumstances”: Dickinson in Quarantine

    For Death – or rather For the Things ’twould buy – This – put away Life’s Opportunity – The Things that Death will buy Are Room – Escape from Circumstances – And a Name – With Gifts of Life How Death’s Gifts may compare – We know not – For the Rates – lie Here […]

    Departed to the Judgment: A Life Between Two Worlds

    Are we in purgatory? The screaming sea of media and humans and texts and creations are overwhelming until they are not. And then, sometimes, you find yourself alone, but not alone. The noise is gone, but you are fully engaged in it. In a car, in bed, in the dark, in silence, these things simply […]

    Waiting for the Hammer to Fall in Lent

    If you care about Lent, this is a time of dread. No booze or no dessert or no social media. No fun. My own take is that Lent helps us understand Good Friday, which, to me, makes death exquisitely real. An easier way would have been a heavenly rapture of Our Lord and Savior: Divine […]

    In The Arena: On Best Efforts and Certain Failures

    It is the season where an entire nation seems to be made of “fans.” National college and professional games, players and primetime television are simply overwhelming in our popular culture, whether you enjoy football or not. But all things devotional, especially those that command our lives in youth, etch who we are in our devotion. […]

    Christmas Triggers

    In 1965 I was 10 years old. In full retreat from a mid-century family, I was a complete Peanuts fan boy. I had every (every) one of the bound compendiums, all the way back to the very first strip—started before I was born—plus bobblehead dolls, books on Charles Schulz (the cartoonist), and a poster or […]


    For 30 years, I have designed places for people to live when they are at the edge of coping. When creating anything, knowing those who will use the creation makes the creation better. This year, I have been part of an effort to make a safe harbor for the young who are lost. Listening to […]

    Shaping the Future

    The following was originally delivered as a keynote at the 149th Annual Episcopal Diocesan Convention in Harrisburg, PA. SHAPE is a verb and a noun. I shape buildings every day. So I verb-shape to make noun-shapes. I am a Christian, too. Over the last 40 years, I have designed and worked on worship spaces. But […]

    “Ad Astra” and Dad

    Usually I disdain movies. But aesthetics can seduce, and I am a sucker for dystopia, and, well, last night I was beat. So we went to see “Ad Astra.” I had heard of the sublime art direction and the contrast between the full-on space travel and the intimate subplot of the father/son relationship. You may […]