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 as well.
The words came quietly through a text on my cell phone. After almost eight years, there was good news.
My husband and I bought our house several years ago without realizing what was at stake regarding the property. At the time of purchase, all we knew is that we had a brick home on a large piece of land, our privacy guaranteed on a road with no outlet--a lovely tidal creek at the end of our street. It was our place in the sun, the beach just minutes away.
We soon learned, though, that there was heated and controversial debate in our city regarding a massive road project to extend an already existing parkway. And that extention would go right through our street, the tidal creek destroyed. Our hearts grieved not only for the possibility of losing our privacy and home value, but also for the potential destruction of the distinct and lush geography that typifies the Lowcountry of South Carolina, and the habitat for so many tidal creatures that live and feed at the creek.
Giovanni and I became active with a group fighting the project. We attended strategy sessions for the group and countless city council meetings in order to lend a voice against the project. We wrote letters to the editor. It appeared at almost every turn, however, that we fought a losing battle. The city council approved the project. There was one problem. A big one. When the idea for the road was birthed, over 400 million dollars of the Infrastructure Bank of South Carolina was set aside for completion. Now after so many years of postponements and delays, the project would now cost over 700 million dollars. The city council wanted to move forward witih a penny sales tax to cover the extra millions. But that ten-word text after all these years and controversy settled things. I read: "The South Carolina Infrastructure Bank voted to kill the project."
I was literally shuffling through the files on my computer (can one shuffle on a computer?). I found a picture of a tree that I didn't remember saving. And it just wasn't any tree, as you can see for yourself. Its mighty, dark trunk appears to soar into the sky, its leaves surreal in their brilliance. I felt connected to this picture and placed it on my desktop screensaver.
Sometimes I find that if I'm especially drawn to an image, I sense God may be making a point in my life. And sure enough the theme of the tree continued. The evening after I found the picture, I attended a night of worship at a creative arts workshop. One of the artists painting during the worship created an image of a tree, its branches receiving fountain springs of water from below the earth as well as embracing rains pouring from the sky. Then the speaker provided a word taken from Psalm 1: They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.
What was the concept God wanted me to get?
He looked dispirited--hanks of greasy blond hair plastered to his forehead, dark circles under his eyes--like he hadn't slept in about a hundred years. "Arthur (not his real name), you look sad," I said.
"I am, Priscilla. You'll never guess what happened. Victoria (not her real name) broke up with me. I haven't been able to sleep. I've been obsessing about how she could do this. I mean we were thinking about marriage." He stopped talking and looked down at his hands. He sighed. The ticking clock in my office seemed unusually loud as we sat together. I gave him time to say more.
"Priscilla, it was just so quick. We woke up one morning, and I went to the kitchen like I usually do and began making the coffee and toast. I even remember I was whistling. I felt happy, Priscilla, that I had a woman in my life that I loved." At that point, Arthur raised his head, made eye contact and swiped at the hair now covering one of his eyes. "She came right into the kitchen, Priscilla, and just said, 'I can't do this anymore, Arthur. We've moved too fast. I need to get out of the relationship.' And she's gone, Priscilla. Gone."
The day was mild, spring elbowing its way in. I caught the startling wisps of green beginning to appear on dark tree branches, and sunlight dappled the pathway my husband and I walked to buy our tickets for a boat ride down the Seine, enjoying one more day in the "City of Light."
The boat wasn't crowded, so we sat alone near the back, holding hands and lost in our own reverie as we cruised down the peaceful, gray-green river. At one point I happened to notice a balcony of an apartment building. The balcony was constructed of wrought iron swirls, simultaneously delicate and sturdy. Almost all the apartments in Paris have balconies, but this one was different in that the windows were open. I could see sheer drapes billowing in the breeze. I imagined the owners desired for that spring air to bring refreshment and fragrance to an apartment shut tight all winter. Lookng at the open window gave me a desire to simply sit on that balcony, sip a cup of hot, flavorful coffee and look out at the tranquil river.
I suppose what that balcony represented to me was a longing to have breathing room. I have trouble seizing breathing room for myself. My world calls out to pay more attention to its whims and words and worries. I know its language well. I speak fluently and get caught up in its drive to produce, its lists and tyrannies of the urgent, people pleasing and duties to keep up "religious norms." But there is a different language--a Kingdom language. It is foreign. My lips don't quite fit around the contours of its new sounds--sounds so beautiful that they emit a fragrance--the scent of the most exquisite perfume--like jasmine blooming. This language is the sound of rushing, cleansing waters and the sight of cerulean skies and pure white clouds. I want to abide in the geography of this language and let it become my mother tongue. But how? Oh my God, how?
Once upon a time I was a missionary--of a sort. I worked as a writer for Campus Crusade For Christ's publication department. I wrote feature stories for their magazine, Worldwide Challenge, acted as a ghost writer for the superstars in the organization, and created copy for brochures and other newsletters. I basically wrote whatever my editor told me to. I got pretty good at it, honestly. I'd drive my little 1979 brown Camaro to the office and furiously type away on my electric typewriter (really, it was typewriters in those days). I actually missed my manual that I used all through college--wish I'd kept it now. But I wax nostalgic...
At one point, my assignment was to create a different, more pleasing name for what Campus Crusade described as aggressive evangelism. Bill Bright had a vision that everyone in the world hear the gospel of Jesus, so each staff member committed to a practice of regularly going out on the street or the beach and talking to people about Jesus. The higher ups didn't really like the word "agressive," although our required evangelistic practices were certainly that, in my opinion. I never really came up with another better descriptor. About the best I could come up with was assertive. But that was lame. The assignment got dropped, and I think the powers that be stuck with aggressive.