A bit of testimony: during a time in my life when I didn’t know God, I felt a desperate need inside of me that I couldn’t quite explain. I wanted there to be a “good.” But, I didn’t want placation and platitudes. More than the “good,” I wanted truth, no matter how gritty or bleak – and I imagined all truth was gritty and bleak.
At the time, I thought the truth was that once we die we go into the ground, and our minds cease to exist. “Good” was subjective, and ultimately “good” didn’t matter because nothing in life truly mattered; One day the sun will run out of energy, the Earth will die, and everything that anyone has ever done will be forgotten, forever. Death always had the last word.
Or so I believed. For a long time.
But something reached out to me. It reached out to me through the things with which I often distracted myself – literature, movies, TV, and art. Through shows like Game of Thrones, it made me realize that certain human behaviors truly disgusted me. It imparted on my heart that righteousness, honor, and “doing the right thing even when it’s hard” actually mattered, though I didn’t know why it mattered. Through a “Cain and Abel” depiction in a Swamp Thing comic, it made me contemplate evil and the afterlife. Superheroes and heroic protagonists made me long for a hero in real life to save us all from ourselves. Many authors I read used themes from the Bible for the basis of their stories and for the characters I loved. I couldn’t pinpoint why these stories and characters spoke to me the deepest, why these stories were best, except that they fed my desire for the “good” that I knew didn’t exist.
When I wasn’t a Christian, I was drawn to the “good,” and to what was “right.” I was drawn to self sacrifice. I was drawn to people who weren’t scared of death. I was drawn to people and themes from the Bible. I was drawn to hope, and honesty and truth. Though I didn’t know it all those times, I was being drawn to Jesus Christ. He was softening my heart, and my hope is that He softens hearts through the poetry, prose, and artwork of this journal.
Here you’ll find characters in the throes of sin, like the adulterous couple in Alec Solomita’s “Marie.” You’ll find doubt and struggles of faith and the flesh speaking out of the poems of Ericka Clay, Amy Coppe, and Amy Nemecek. You’ll find hope in the simple gestures of Carl Palmer’s “maestro” and the knitter in Victoria Crawford’s “40,” and in the broken calls from the poems of April Ojeda. Here you’ll see transformation in Gopal Lahiri’s dreamer, Joris Soeding’s “spectator,” and Carla Durbach’s professor. You’ll find creative longings for Christ and visions of truth in the work of Elaine Wilburt, Lorette C. Luzajic, and Laura Arciniega. You’ll find characters that know they’ve been saved, people still in the dark, and people who are attracted to the light.
I hope you’ll find something for you.
Thank you to our contributors: the wonderful writers mentioned above and the talented artists/photographers Philip Abbott, Lorette C. Luzajic, Tamayo Muto, Ann Privateer, and Jim Stoner.
Thank you to all who submitted work, and thank you for reading our inaugural issue.
Veronica McDonald is a writer, poet, artist, and editor/founder of Heart of Flesh Literary Journal. Her work has appeared in Inwood Indiana Press, Jersey Devil Press, Five on the Fifth, and Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, among others. She became a born-again Christian in July 2016 when Jesus saved her from anxiety, depression, and a nihilistic worldview. Find her at VeronicaMcDonald.com.