My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as to those who simply love to read. You will find snippets of things I am working on and special announcements here.
What Gorgeous Thing~Mary Oliver
I do not know what gorgeous thing the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat, beak, body into the pink air of the early morning.
I like it, whatever it is. Sometimes it seems the only thing in the world without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing in the world that is without questions that can't and probably
never will be answered, the only thing that is entirely content with the pink, then clear white
morning and, gratefully says so.
They are forever etched in my mind. Bob and Louise. They came over to my childhood home every Christmas Eve. Louise brought homemade fudge and a basket of gifts. When I was about four, my mother asked me what I thought God might look like. I said, "I think God might look like Bob." Bob was blond and fair skinned. His eyes evolved into blue crescents when he smiled. He puffed on a pipe when he listened to my childish pattering, nodding and laughing, occasionally reaching out to touch my shoulder. I felt loved just being near him. And Louise always seemed to choose the gift that felt individualized and personal, though she couldn't have known what I wanted. One Christmas, when I was 13, I unwrapped a bottle of Windsong perfume from Louise. I thought I'd never smelled anything better. I kept uncapping the top and holding the bottle to my nose. The scent of Windsong followed me throughout adolescence.
Birdsong. Yes. What a glorious thing. I walked this morning around my condo complex and tilted my face up to the honeyed blue sky, listening to a bird perched on a dark, wintery tree limb. A few orange leaves still clung to the branch. The sky and birdsong seemed to pour into my heart. I liked it. I felt better. "Keep on singing," I said out loud.
Drawn by an irresistible attraction, to the regions of light.~C.S. Lewis (From Out Of The Silent Planet)
On the evening of my daughter, Bethany Wren's artist event, I was drawn to the regions of light. Bethany debuted her new EP, Kindred. The album is a collection of songs she wrote. She graciously invited other artists to perform. The night was filled with song and laughter, poetry and music, champagne and cake. Fresh flowers. Light and beauty. Bethany invited me to read an essay during the event, and I post it here. It is lengthier than what you usually read at this site. You will notice themes you've heard before in my posts.
I also invite you to listen to Bethany's gorgeous songs. You will love the collection. And please feel free to share the link with friends and loved ones. Kindred
IT CAN BE EVERYTHING
Bethany, there is an image of you that I carry in my mind. It was the eighties. Your father and I rented a weathered clapboard house in Portland, Oregon. The landlord tended a vegetable garden in the side yard and you liked to watch him harvest his crops and talk to him while he worked. You were almost two. One day the man placed a gigantic zucchini in his wheelbarrow, and you became fascinated with the vegetable. He asked if you wanted to hold it, and you readily tucked that verdant beast under your arm. In your other arm you carried Fozzie Bear, your favorite stuffed animal. You then promptly took your treasures to the front steps of that old house, sat down and began to sing O Little Town Of Bethlehem. The man paused from his work and said, "You know, she has a wonderful singing voice for one so young. It's clear and beautiful. I believe the happy gardener was prophetic in his declaration.
We begin early, I think, to embrace what delights us. No shame or fear or anxiety has set in yet about liking what we like. Noticing what we notice. No comparisons with others. No performance-based pressures. No perfectionism.
And then we begin adulting. Suddenly it doesn't seem so simple to pursue an artistic pathway. Childlike delights can become distant, or sadly, forgotten. We get talked out of things. Sometimes it's the most well-meaning people who can sound so persuasive. Heap on the guilt. Cause second-guessing. "You mean you really think you can make money with your art? You're so good at accounting. Aren't numbers more your thing?"
"You know everyone in our family gets into the medical field. Surely, you're not thinking of pursuing theater. I mean maybe as a hobby. But really. Think about it." We let the painting lessons go by the wayside. We hide the poetry in the bottom drawer. We don't take the class in film making. We cancel the ballet workshop. We don't count decorating our home as a real art form, nor the passion we have for cooking or parenting or starting a business. We say things to ourselves like, "Who do I think I am to write a play?" We tell ourselves that we don't have time. We move opportunities for submitting our work to the spam folder. "Who am I kidding?" we say.
Most of you here probably don't have this type of thinking. You've transcended the discouragement or disillusionment and are happily creating. Bravo! I'm not quite there yet. I continually need to be reminded of some things to stay on the creative pathway. I invite you to consider the following, taking what you need and leaving the rest.
Keep taking chances. Keep going. Keep, keep going forward.~E-mail from a good friend
I'm more of a tortoise. The hare wears me out. Exhausts me. I need margin. A slower pace. At times I feel guilty about needing to move more slowly in life, feel pressure to accelerate my pace. Get it done faster. Especially with writing. There are now programs you can sign up for where you write a novel in one month. That makes me want to faint. I couldn't do it. Don't want to do it.
It's taken me three years to finish my current novel. Thousands and thousands of steps. One by one. A loyal tortoise, intentionally ignoring the hare, even though I see him out of the corner of my eye, rushing past and waving. Urging me to join his rapidity.
But the stars were still blanketed, out of sight. I wanted to see them. I wanted to feel their comfort.~Matt Haig (From The Humans)
Things just feel so out of control. They are.
The day after I returned from Italy, I got COVID. I'd had all the vaccinations. But I was still really sick. Coughing, stuffed up, fever, sneezing. Very weak. Couldn't smell anything. In quarantine on the second floor of my house. Away from my husband. Away from everyone.
But really, in the scheme of all that's out of control in the world, I have no reason to complain. I can rest, drink water, take medication, pray. Read. And text. So few people call anymore. That's okay with me. I'm not really a phone person anyway.
You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.~Psalm 65:11
Giovanni and I are edging closer to leaving Italy, this beautiful country. I took a last walk yesterday on the pathway that loops through the bucolic setting. The weather had cooled, and I felt a refreshing breeze on my face. A few bikers rushed past. Tractors harvested crops. A flock of white birds gathered to feast on the bits of grain left scattered in the fields.
Last year when I was in Italy, I often walked over to an abandoned farmhouse. I always thought that the weathered, broken-down structure could be restored--reconstructed into something beautiful again.