I've been AWOL from this blog while preparing for, and leading, a weeklong study tour in Rome and Florence.On the eve of my return to the States, I'm sitting in my hotel room in Rome -- which is tucked into the side of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme -- and thinking about St. Helena and her determined effort to find the True Cross. This is where Helena, the Emperor Constantine's mother, had a palace, which she left when she went on her quest to Jerusalem.The Cross seems like a good topic for reflection on a day when Rome is mourning the loss of six soldiers in Afghanistan....I'm also surfing the web (too tired to sightsee) and I see that Uwem Akpan, SJ's collection of short stories, Say You're One of Them, has just been chosen as Oprah's latest Book Club pick.There have been at least a couple earlier posts about this volume but allow me to recommend it as well. I just took my MFA students through these tragic tales of contemporary Africa. The unifying thread in the collection is that all the narrators are all children. The stories are set in various African nations, including Nigeria, Rwanda, and Kenya.The Cross is present in each of these tales, too.St. Helena, pray for us.

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