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.
I pulled the string on the blinds, like unzipping the day, the sky milky, a few raindrops falling on the windowpane. A lone bird sang--its melody piercing the dreary day. I wanted to be that bird--to have a song on my lips. Yet inside all I could think about was all I had to do. Get to the filing stacked in the corner, falling over and spilling onto the floor. Wasn't staying organized on the computer supposed to stop the paper pile up? My mind raced...laundry, take a walk, help my husband with yardwork, write emails, devise menus for the week, clean the bathroom, sign up for conference, work on taxes, practice language, verb drills, banking. I had the day off. Surely the time didn't have to consist solely of "to-dos." Surely there could be something more appealing than the list I'd stored up in my mind. I snapped the blind shut and whispered, "Stop. Don't do this to yourself. Surely, this non-stop flurry in your brain is not what God would have for you this day." I asked a question then. "God, what would you have for me today?" Then He posed this question to me: "What part of your kingdom inheritance do you want most this day?" "I want to be unpressured. I want peace. I want to feel unhurried," I said. "You possess those things in me. Take them. Sit down. Rest."
I opened the blinds again. I could see the little bird now. He perched on a thin tree branch, gusts of wind making the limb bob up and down. But still he sang, his eyes shiny black beads. He seemed to be encouraging me to come outside with his sweet warbling. I donned my rain jacket and headed out to the tidal creek. I prayed as I walked. "God I want to learn to rest, let go, inside this beautiful, chaotic world, but sometimes I don't know what this means for me--what would you have me do?"
...tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light...~Toni Morrison, Nobel Prize Lecture, 1993
They sat in the front of the conference room. A panel of transgender individuals telling their stories to a group of therapists, social workers and the like. The panel consisted of an attorney, several advocates who organized support groups in the community, and an individual who worked for the police department. We sat listening, absorbed by what they shared. I leaned forward in my chair. In all of their stories, I got the impression that they experienced a sense of being unmasked when they felt heard. Seen.
I thought about the impact of their narratives for me. I have transgender persons on my caseload. Sometimes I have felt terrified in working with them, knowing I was ignorant regarding so many of the issues they struggled with. Using the wrong pronouns. Being overly clinical, trying to hide my discomfort. And I'm the one with privilige. I am white. I have a car and don't have to worry about transportation. I have an ID with "F". I've never questioned my gender. I have an education. I have money to buy organic foods. I have good credit. I have a family who supports me. I can use the women's restroom without a second thought.
In a dream, a man with a yellow, pock-marked face chased me. Each time I looked back to see if he was still there, I realized he was gaining on me. I was within his reach. He was screaming profanities at me. I realized I needed to call for help, but felt my throat closing. Finally, with intention and effort, I opened my mouth and shouted as loudly as I could. "NO, NO, NO." I awakened with a jolt, still yelling. It was only a dream, awful though it was. I felt afraid and unsettled. It took awhile for my heartbeat to slow. I have a panacea for bad dreams, though. I learned this solution from the late and beloved John Paul Jackson, a man who taught on the biblical interpretation of dreams. Over the years, I've taken several of his courses to better help me understand my own dreams. Mr Jackson taught the concept of the "flip." What is the opposite of the darkness contained in the dream? For example, the flip might sound something like this after a disturbing dream:
Life instead of death.
Strength instead of weakness.
Peace instead of anxiety.
Favor instead of fear.
Beauty instead of ugliness.
Refreshment instead of oppression.
Power instead of helplessness.
Courage instead of worry.
Enthusiasm instead of negativity.
Grace instead of bondage.
He didn't send someone else to help them. He did it himself, in person.~Isaiah 63:8 (The Message)
I walked out of the office, happy it was Friday and surprised by the warmth of the day. When I'd driven to work in the morning darkness, the air had been cold. I could see my breath in the car, stars glittered overhead. Now, I lifted my face to the sun, relishing the light. I was off to make copies of the rough draft of my latest manuscript to send out to readers who had graciously said they'd provide feedback.
Standing at the copier, I could hear the brush and whiz of paper as the machine stacked the pages. I thought, "I should feel better about this accomplishment." But I didn't. "Why did you bother to write this book, Priscilla? It is merely a 'vanity' project. Who wants to read about your experiences? And besides, it is just not that good." Then the other voice: "Have you forgotten? Have you forgotten all the times you have walked from the gate? When a portal has unlocked, and instead of staying at the entry, you've walked onward, delighting in the exploration of that territory? You've moved on and found other unlocked gates."
It is very important not to become hard...have one skin too few in comparison to other people, so you feel the slightest wind.~Shusha Guppy
She kept looking at me--glancing over unsmiling, eyes bright, fevered. Her thinning blonde hair messy, unkempt. A walker stood near her as she sat on the edge of a chair in the doctor's office. She appeared to be in her seventies. I sat several feet away from her, smiled and made eye contact. Finally she said to me, "I have fluid on my lungs. I'm waiting for my daughter to take me to another doctor to have the liquid drawn off." The waiting room wasn't crowded, but everyone there could hear the woman and me, too, when I said, "I'm sorry to hear you're going through a rough time." That comment seemed to unleash her story. "I'm getting chemo now. I just finished two treatments, and I have four more. But I just have no appetite, so the doctor prescribed weed (I think she was referring to marinol). Better to be high, I guess, than too skinny." She chuckled when she said that, then went silent, her head down. I looked out of the corner of my eye and observed some people smiling. Others fidgeted. When one is sitting in an oncologist's waiting room, the elephant in the center is cancer. Nobody breathes that word, though. Afraid to even utter it. Yet the woman continued. "I have ovarian cancer. It's awful." I transcended my embarrassment, my self-consciousness and replied, "I know. Cancer is horrible. I had six chemo treatments. I made it through, one by one." "You did?" She smiled then. "And you're okay?" "Yes, I'm here today for my first check up, to see if I'm still clear." People looked up from their magazines, their phones and laptops, now wondering where this public conversation would go. "You look good," the woman said. And indeed, I was feeling energetic again, my hair growing back, my weight stabilized (I'd gained weight). "What's your first name?" I asked the woman. "Patsy," she said. "And yours?" "Priscilla," I answered. "Oh, that's a pretty name." At that moment, Patsy's daughter peeked her head inside the waiting room door and said, "Mom it's time to go." Patsy struggled to get up, grabbed her walker and slowly made her way across the room. "God bless you," I said as she left. She called back, "Pray for me." I said, "I will," my voice loud, confident. Everyone heard me.