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.
You could see how at the end of each day the world seemed cracked open and the extra light made its way across the stark trees and promised. It promised that light, and what a thing that was.~Elizabeth Strout (From Olive Again)
I am unlearning anxiety. Shaking off the way it feels in the body. That prickling sting on my scalp, beads of sweat beginning to form at the edges of my hairline. Afraid people will notice. Feeling the thud of my heart. My mind a record going round and round, the needle stuck and hissing the same lyric over and over. I remember decades ago when I lived near Los Angeles, I drove to a taping of Family Feud. A family in my church was playing the game. I got to the studio just in time to be herded with hundreds of other people into the seating for the audience. We were crammed together, and my knees bumped the seat in front of me. My nylon caught on the sharp corner of the chair, and a run formed across my knee. So ugly. And I was thirsty--that kind of thirst that all you can think about is an icy coke, foam dripping down the sides of the cup. A water fountain. I couldn't squeeze out of the seat, because the studio was dark, the show ready to begin. I can't remember now if the family I knew won or lost. All I remember is how deeply I craved a drink of water.
I know a lot about pain, about the ways in which pain is tied to loss. But I also know something less commonly understood: that change and loss travel together. We can't have change without loss, which is why so often people say they want change but nonetheless stay exactly the same.~Lori Gottlieb (From Maybe You Should Talk To Someone)
Change. As a world, during COVID we're all dealing with imposed revisions, and still tasked to manage everyday life.
This week I read a poem once again that we Americans all know from ninth grade English: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. (I write it here for your recollection):
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Sometimes I've thought that the road Frost decided to take was somehow "the better choice." But as a contemplate the poem now having lived a few decades, I understand that roads not taken are perhaps just as good, really. Maybe even easier. Or even better. Frost states the road he did not choose was "just as fair" and he longed to travel both.
We no longer need to run from present time in search of the place where we think life is really happening.~Henri Nouwen
I have this nasty habit of creating expectations for my life. It's like hearing the door bell ring and the florist handing me a dozen white roses instead of red ones. "Doesn't my love know I wanted red ones, not white?" There's no way to exchange them. There's no way to send them back. I can either place them in a vase and pine for red roses or find the beauty in the white ones.
I've had this attitude since landing in a Pandemic. This is not what I anticipated. I was supposed to get red roses. I wasn't planning on having to adjust.
There's another related concept that I share: impermanence. Sometimes in their pain, people believe that the agony will last forever. But feelings are actually more like weather systems--they blow in and they blow out. Just because you feel sad this minute or this hour or this day doesn't mean you'll feel that way in ten minutes or this afternoon or next week. Everything you feel--anxiety, elation, anguish--blows in and out again.~Lori Gottlieb (From Maybe You Should Talk To Somebody)
I walk into the kitchen, rubbing my eyes, my hair sticking out in unattractive angles after a fitful night's sleep.
"How are you doing? asks my husband, Giovanni.
"Oh, I'm really sick of all the misery in the world. I'm so done," I say.
"Well," he says, "We're having burgers on the grill today." He smiles.
I smile back. "You're right. It's good to think about now, about today."
"Want to go for a walk?" Giovanni asks. "We could get out before it's too hot, then come home and shower and hunker down in the air conditioning." He smiles again.
I waver. Do I really want to coat myself with insect repellent? I'll be sweating like a maniac before we get home, even though it's not yet eight in the morning. My ambivalence hangs in the air, but before I can change my mind, I say, "Yes. Let's do it."
Above all, constantly echo God's intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins. Every believer has received grace gifts, so use them to serve one another as faithful stewards of the many-colored tapestry of God's grace.~I Peter 4:8,10 (The Passion Translation)
It's hard to know what to do. Seems the world just keeps getting sadder by the minute. There is a tendency to give up, give in. But somewhere deep in our hearts, we know that to remain in fear and despair is not the answer.
A few weeks ago, I wrote in a post that our hearts had been plowed by the racial unrest in our midst. I asked my readers to write to me about what they wanted to plant in the furrowed fields of their hearts. The consensus of the response was this: I will love better. I will pray for peace and justice. I will do what God calls me to in my sphere of influence. One reader provided this beautiful metaphor: "I received this vision of a smiling God holding a huge burlap bag marked GRACE in red letters. All I had to do was snip a corner and begin planting seeds in the fertile ground."
What if we all snipped the corners of our burlap bags and began planting the seeds God has gifted us with?