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By Mary Johnson

At seventeen, Mary Johnson skilled her calling while she observed a photograph of mom Teresa at the disguise of Time journal; eighteen months later she begun her education as a Missionary of Charity, a nun in mom Teresa’s order. no longer without problems, this boisterous, independent-minded youngster ultimately tailored to the sisters’ austere lifetime of poverty and devotion, yet underneath the white-and-blue sari beat the center of a regular younger girl who confronted day-by-day the straightforward and profound struggles all of us percentage, an analogous wants for romance and connection. ultimately, after two decades of carrier, Johnson left the church to discover her personal course, yet her magnificently advised tale holds common truths concerning the mysteries of religion and the way a girl discovers herself.

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After the beautifully restored opulence of Prague, the squalor of Kyiv’s inner city is a shock. There are shiny-suited Russian Mafioso everywhere—walking clichés wielding cell phones, big-haired Russian women on their arms. My thoughts take a paranoid turn. Does my cousin Roxolana, who is hosting me so generously, really like me, or does she just see me as a brutish westerner, stealing the soul of her country with my video camera? I don’t yet know that Roxolana normally stays up half the night and rarely breakfasts before noon.

She had with her a brown paper bag full of knobby, pockmarked tomatoes, purchased in town, which she intended to share equally with our entire brigade. The five of us stood there, tired and dusty from a day in the fields, each allowed one democratic bite out of a single, fresh tomato. I remember how quiet and how reverent we were. Few things I’ve eaten since have had such impact on my tastebuds, something indescribably sweet and tender unfolding there. Once, my Parisian friend Claire showed up unexpectedly at my door.

It made them sick. It tasted funny: not how they remembered. Sometimes when I am lying in bed, reaching unsuccessfully for sleep, I think about food. I create a theme, like potatoes. In my head, I conjure up the different potato dishes my mother cooked when I was a child, and they fly magically across my mind’s eye like a scene from Bewitched. New potatoes in cream and dill; potato pancakes; pork chops with scalloped potatoes. The backdrop for these reveries is always summer: there is a yellow and red swing set that clangs to a stop as Mama calls our names for dinner, and screen doors that slam open and shut all along the lane, thwack, thwack, thwack.

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