A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations by Christine Hale
"Christine Hale’s evocation of the bewildering complexities of life as a mother, daughter, wife (and ex-wife), and student of Buddhism is both a poem and a letter to those she has worked so long and hard to understand. On a journey that takes her through emotional and actual hurricanes, love and cruelty, urgent losses, and painful gains, she climbs to sometimes unnervingly high altitudes as she experiences 'the joy and the sorrow of samsara.' In beautiful, clear language, Hale explores the wounds life gives us, the wounds we give ourselves, and the long process of healing."
—Sarah Stone, author of The True Sources of the Nile
"When St. John of the Cross first penned Dark Night of the Soul in the 1sixteenth century, he clarified the halting and stumbling steps of a spiritual journey. Christine Hale’s A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice takes this classic form and brings it into the twenty-first century, looking through the lens of loss, childhood trauma, Buddhism, and natural disasters, with tattoos and the author’s love for her children front and center. Her narrative illuminates the experience of stepping through the chilly and often frightening darkness into a hoped-for new dawn in the company of a generous friend and trusty guide who’s one step ahead."
—Bernadette Murphy, author of Harley & Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life
In this layered collage of memory within memory, Christine Hale recreates for readers her kaleidoscopic experience of a decades-long journey to acceptance and insight. Writer, prodigal daughter, single parent, Buddhist disciple, and, late in midlife, a newlywed, she is transformed through an unconventional relationship with a female spiritual teacher and an odd ritual of repeated tattooing with her two young adult children.
Christine Hale’s prose has appeared in Hippocampus, Arts & Letters, Prime Number, Shadowgraph, and The Sun, among other literary journals. Her debut novel Basil’s Dream (Livingston Press, 2009) received honorable mention in the 2010 Library of Virginia Literary Awards. A fellow of MacDowell, Ucross, Hedgebrook, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ms. Hale has been a finalist for the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers and the Rona Jaffee Foundation Writers’ Award. She earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College, and teaches in the Antioch University-Los Angeles Low-Residency MFA Program as well as the Great Smokies Writing Program. Her new book, A Piece of Sky, A Grain of Rice: A Memoir in Four Meditations (forthcoming from Apprentice House, July 2016) is set in the southern Appalachian Mountains, where she and her parents grew up. She lives in Asheville, where she is director of operations for Urban Dharma, a Buddhist temple and community center.