My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as those who simply love to read. You will find eclectic snippets here—news of projects I’m working on, comments regarding books I enjoy, favorite authors, quotes, and reflections regarding my own experiences. I especially like to write about my dreams—those parables in the night seasons. Symbols and metaphors delight and intrigue me. You will find them here.
Someone is paying attention while we flit about and check our texts.~Anne Lamott (From Dusk, Night, Dawn--On Revival And Courage)
Each week I may spend more time hunting for an image to post in this space than I do in the writing. Sometimes the image comes before the writing.
I heard on a podcast that God loves to provide us images. The speaker said, "Try something. Ask God how He sees you. Don't fret about it or think too hard," he said. "Allow what comes to mind." I sat in my study, the air conditioner softly thrumming, the sun streaming through the blinds. "How do you see me, God?" The first image that came to mind was a picture of the giant oak that sat across from the house where I used to live. It was at least a hundred years old, its branches creating a wide arc. Thick roots above ground indicated an extensive root system. I often sat on my porch gazing at the oak, its beauty providing a type of ipecac, ridding me of life's toxins, its grit. I never tired to look at the oak; its presence centered me. Blue sky peering through its branches offered me solace and hope. I loved that tree.
Then today, I flipped through a notebook where I keep record of eclectic quotes, and a black and white photo taken of me in 1964 slipped from the pages. I leaned against my dad's Ford Fairlane--a chubby nine-year-old wearing Keds and anklet socks. In the background, a massive oak stood in my grandparents yard. I'd forgotten about that tree. My grandfather always tied a rope swing through its solid branches. I swung for hours and hours on that swing, the oak limb never breaking or bending, holding me fast.
"That's how I see you," He seemed to say. "Even as a child, I saw who you'd become. Now you're in the later seasons of your life, yet know that you are strong, and I renew your youth. Your roots go way down deep in my love for you."
Yet his absence weighted my heart with deep silence.~Elizabeth Gilbert (From City of Girls)
I am flattened by this news. Pressed down. I need a spatula to scrape me up. Sadness unfolds across the universe to hear that a man took his life--a loved one of my friend. The act of suicide is desperate, pain so deep and cavernous that those left behind may not even have been aware of the suffering. There is a collective flattening now. We all need spatulas as our hearts are weighted with his absence. It is not clear what to do or think or feel. It is good to ask: "Have I eaten anything today?" "Am I hydrated?" "What will I wear to the funeral? What about my hair?" (It is okay to ask these seemingly mundane questions.) Self-care is important now.
Feelings are numb. Shock prevails. We say, "Is he really gone? Just last week I saw him, read his post on Instagram." We listen over and over to the voice mail. "Can he really not be just down the road in his house with his beautiful wife? He had a good job. What happened? What happened?"
We have questions. Heartbreak.
However great our scale of injury or loss, our frailties and pains are made bearable by others. Their thoughts, their deeds, their reaching out. Their love and our endurance makes us human and complete.~Jennifer Worth
He understood. He knew that I felt anxious driving downtown, the parking a nightmare. But it was a mild evening, unseasonable, usually the god-awful heat and humidity prevailed. It would feel good to get out. He offered his unconditional positive regard to me. His love. His encouragement to expect good and not trouble. My friend who I've known now for over two decades. He coaxed me out of my comfort zone with his kindness and acceptance. And we found the parking space waiting just for us. And the restaurant that had only one table left. Just for us. At dusk, we walked over to the famous Pineapple fountain in our city, the sound of the water rinsing us from our cares. We sat at a rustic wooden table and looked out over the harbor. The wind ruffled the waters and caressed our faces. We talked of our lives. We laughed. Silences between us did not create discomfort.
My friend is a brilliant thinker. He loves to learn new things and consistently takes courses to enhance his knowledge. He loves studying the brain. He said, "I learned that there are three sounds the brain needs to hear to create peace and well-being--the sound of wind, water and song." I replied, "Perhaps this is why we are feeling so well now. There is the sound of the wind and the water in our midst." All we lacked was song. But as I thought about it, perhaps we did have melody. The gentle murmur of the people who passed by as we enjoyed our respite and the unhurried conversation between friends.
Some of us make highly visible, elaborate contributions to the whole. Some of us are part of the ticking mechanics of the world, the incremental wealth of small gestures.~Katherine May (From Wintering, The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times)
He loves teeth and finding ways to keep them. My dentist. Two days ago this humble doctor performed surgery on my mouth. Before he began, he told me that he prays over each patient that he sees. This small gesture before surgery caused my heartbeat to slow. During surgery I drifted in and out as the IV sedation flowed through my veins. I heard bits and snippets of the conversation between my dentist and his assistant. "That looks perfect. Just perfect." "We have done just what she needed doing." "Wonderful outcome." It was as if their hopeful declarations blended together to create a chorus of goodwill.
The experience reminded me of the beauty of small gestures that often go unnoticed by me--that happen every day. The postman whose smile is bright white and always tells me to have a good day. "We must stay positive," he says. I always feel better after I see him at the mailboxes inside my complex. Then the kindness of strangers. The driver who lets me merge, then waves and smiles. My husband who brings me hot, fragrant coffee (with just enough cream) and places it by my bedside. The unexpected text. "I'd like to invite you for a glass of prosecco to celebrate the next chapter in our lives." The snail mail from a friend. I recognize her handwriting and it's as if I'm with her. The homemade blueberry muffin served on a pretty plate. A Will Ferrell GIF that makes me laugh. The librarian's friendly greeting.
These wants are often astonishingly inaccurate: drugs and alcohol, which poison instead of reintegrate; relationships with people who do not make us feel safe or loved; objects that we do not need, cannot afford, which hang around our necks like albatrosses of debt long after the yearning for them has passed. Underneath this chaos and clutter lies a longing for more elemental things--love, beauty, comfort, a short spell of oblivion once in a while. Everyday life is so often isolated, dreary, and lonely. A little craving is understandable. A little craving might actually be the rallying cry of survival.~Katherine May (From Wintering, The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times)
I don't often write in the evening. Mornings usually entice me more gently into my study. I could not resist the sky outside my window, the light diluted into an ephemeral pink glow behind the line of trees on the horizon. It will soon be dark. I've lit a candle and classical music plays from an app on my phone. These small pleasures never seem to disappoint. Writing, my loyal companion, wax dripping from the candle, the fragrance of jasmine as it burns. The setting sun. Chopin.
My heart is not entirely light, though. I received word that a beloved friend is not doing well. She is exhausted from care giving. She is spent, her family support sparse. Perhaps I turn to the page as a way to assuage my own powerlessness to offer her any practical help as we live in different geographies. Tonight I imagine that she might be looking out over the landscape of her life wondering if things will ever change. I would walk behind her and place my hands on her shoulders and tell her that she is loved. That she is not alone. That her longing to rest, her craving for retreat is no insignificant matter.
I never know who reads my blog posts, but I imagine there may be others that feel like my friend and long for relief on some level. I offer you this blessing...