“Beauty is not a Luxury” -John O’Donohue The Irish poet and philosopher John O’ Donohue, (God rest his soul) eloquently spoke and wrote about the need for Beauty that our human souls have to feel complete, to be whole. The experience of Beauty, whether it be music or poetry; liturgy and scripture; a caring relationship … More A Walk Around Mont Blanc
The lost Kingdom of Ruthenia is undergoing a rebirth and is attracting renewed interest from adventurous travelers. You may be a history buff, or a vagabond tourist, but could you find Ruthenia on a map? … More Where on Earth is Ruthenia?
We want to inspire you to leave the smart phone at home, turn off the GPS navigation system, stop checking for new Facebook posts and get out and enjoy the wonders of this world and experience your life by getting lost and then finding a new way home. Get outside your comfort zone by jumping … More Get Lost!
Many years ago, when I was in college, I met a young man who always wore large round glasses and white button-down shirts. He was studious and reserved, but always polished and cordial in his bearing. I liked him as soon as I saw him for the first time one September evening, while some of … More 5 Years of Books, 30 Years of Stories
Many years ago I lived in Romania for 16 months as a young American volunteer. It was in the mid-nineties; communism (as it only shortly before existed in Romania) was a thing of the past, but its shadows still loomed large. Huge, half-built ‘hunger domes’ — that had been intended as neighborhood mess halls — … More Book Review: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
One of my favorite songs is ‘Peace Like a River,’ an African-American spiritual that has brought me hope and peace in hard times. This song always carries me to a village on the banks of the Seine River, in France, called Les Andelys. My family and I have been visiting this little-known spot nearly every … More Peace Like a River: How the Seine Feeds My Soul
While study of the 1956 Uprising is particularly intriguing to those interested in European history and politics, the casual reader–or museum visitor–or film viewer–can also benefit from a better understanding of what happened. … More Hungary for Freedom
We hear it said time and again that “those who don’t study history are destined to repeat it.” This phrase is used as a warning when the oracles of our civilizations declare that something tragic is about to befall us again. Such declarations are meant to wake Us up and for Us to apply the … More A History Not Worth Repeating
As part of our online book club, ‘Travel Europe Through Books,’ we’ve been reading The Last Train From Estonia, the harrowing personal story of Jaak Jurison. In it he describes his experiences, first growing up in peaceful Estonia, then witnessing first-hand the Soviet invasion, purges, and censorship in Estonia that coincided with the Second World … More We Sang Our Way to Freedom: The Singing Revolution of Estonia
Nearly four years ago, my husband Val and I visited the Ukrainian capitol of Kyiv together. This trip had been a long-time interest of ours. Val had lived in Kyiv as a young man back in 1993, right after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and in our 20+ years of marriage I had heard … More Lending Support for Ukraine
Perhaps because of its pristine landscape, or the tendency of its residents toward verbal restraint, Finland has an understated national character that has kept generally out of the international limelight. However, this largely forested country has much to offer in the way of culture and literature. Its language has developed since ancient times, and now represents a growing literary entity on the world stage. … More Introduction to Finland in 5 Books
Communal wisdom states that “no man is an island,” but that is certainly not due to a lack of some of us trying to become one. Seppo Kemppainnen, the reluctant anti-hero in the new short story The Lucky Finn by VM Karren, is a master at burning the bridges that connect his island to anybody or anything else. Seppo’s only goal in life is to remain an island of solitude but finds luck conspiring against him, bringing him undesired good fortune…and too many neighbors! … More No Man is an Island