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.
Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out. Then you didn't.~Sarah Bessey (From Out of Sorts)
The week felt long, even though it was four days of work instead of five. I'd meant to be extra productive on the MLK holiday--feedback to the artist regarding the website, a vigorous walk, recording quotes I'd discovered from the books I've read, emails to loved ones, researching potential submissions...I did none of it. I had such good intentions, and I'd started out well. I'd gone to Lab Corps to have my blood drawn for a physical later in the week. I'd fasted prior to the labwork, my growling stomach acting as some sort of gold medal that I was doing all the right things that morning. Yet when I got home, I felt exhausted, even after eating my healthy flaxseed muffin that I make almost every day. It was as if that blood draw had sucked out more than blood, draining my energy and psychological resilience as well. "Okay," I said to myself, "Let me sit in this sunny corner of my house and read--just two articles from the Paris Review (I'd bought the subscription for a personal Christmas present). Two articles, then two more, and then I picked up a new library book. I'd meant to get up from that chair and begin my list, the "tik-tok" of my clock like a calming presence there in the sunlit corner. I didn't want to get up. So I stayed until the sun set, until it was time for bed. Then I moved three feet and crawled under the covers and slept, warding off feelings of guilt that I'd gotten nothing done.
I often don't know where I'm going. I have almost no sense of direction. I have never understood concepts like "as the crow flies." If I'm not sure what direction to take, I tend to go the opposite way, because typically my intuition is incorrect. Enter Google maps. Saving grace. A confident voice directs me step by step. But what if Google maps somehow goes haywire? Shuts down--providing instructions that make no sense--even for a person like me who is practically clueless when it comes to maps. Well, you ask for help with someone who has a working GPS or someone who can read maps. You get another app for your phone. You take a next step.
Creative endeavors, I find, can be similar to having a poor sense of direction. I get lost easily there too. Yesterday I met with the artist who helps me with book covers and websites. God, is he kind. Women would pay hundreds of dollars to have their hair fall to their shoulders in rippling curls like his. His eyes are filled with light. He's like the woman's voice on my new Waze app who tells me which turn to take. At lunch yesterday, Alex unveiled the new book cover design. I could have wept, it was so beautiful. At that moment, I didn't care if anyone ever read the book. I felt victory seeing all that artistry come together. Maybe an emotion akin to holding a newborn--a feeling of awe that something had actually been created. The book wasn't just something I trusted would materialize at some point. I felt relief. I'd reached a destination--not fully understanding or remembering all the turns I'd taken through territory that was new. I'd made it to the next stop on the road.
"It's a funny thing," said Rabbit, "how everything looks the same in a mist. Lucky we know the Forest so well, or we might get lost."
"Pooh!" Piglet whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."~A.A. Milne
When I entered the art exhibit to view Van Gogh and His Inspirations, my shoulders and torso loosened slightly. Tension ebbed. It was as if a kindred spirit squeezed my hand.
I really didn't know much about Van Gogh, other than stories of his unstable mental health when he cut off his ear. I knew of his sunflowers and starry night.
I didn't know that he sold only one painting during his career, seven months before his death at age 37. He was also a voracious reader. He wrote profusely as well, especially letters. Copies of some of his letters were on display. He was close to his brother, Theo, who supported his artistic endeavors. When I looked at one of the letters and observed the fine script, Mon Cher Theo, tears sprang to my eyes realizing how much artists need people who believe in them. Such intimacy felt with this deceased painter there in the museum with strangers milling about.
One brief hour on one afternoon and the future suddenly shone ahead. I could almost see it.~From Gone by Min Kym
Rain spills down the window pane, sounding comfort on a winter afternoon, the pale light offering subtle beauty like a Camille Corot landscape. I sip a glass of red wine and nibble dark chocolate. Savor a lit candle. I've been reading since nine this morning. It's now five in the afternoon. An introvert's best day.
I think about the New Year. I feel like a child, hoping, hoping, hoping for good things. I say to myself, "This last year wasn't the most hospitable. So many losses and sadness. It's a good thing all that melancholy wasn't on my radar when I peered out over the horizon this time last year. Not knowing can be a good thing."
We slipped into the booth, our faces flushed with laughter after visiting the "Ugly Christmas Sweater" store. A Christmas tree twinkled in the corner of The Darling Oyster, a quaint downtown restaurant where my good friend and I unpacked our library of memories in the candlelit ambiance. He and I worked together over ten years ago doing HIV prevention work. He moved to DC and opened a private counseling practice. I cannot begin to imagine the number of people he has touched with his intense compassion and poignant acceptance of persons who suffer. My friend showed me a photo of he and several other members of his church gathered around a dying congregant. "The pastor asked me to lead in worship. I sang 'Alleluia' over him; we laid hands on him and prayed." As I gazed at the photo, I realized everyone was smiling, including the man in hospice, his hand raised in victory. Then my friend, fixed his eyes on mine and listened to my life, never judging, never shaming. Listening. Hearing. Nodding. The Darling Oyster like a sanctuary.
Being with my friend caused me to realize anew how precious life is. How ephemeral. In that spirit, I want to offer sincere thanks to you, my dear readers, for allowing me into your lives over these weeks and years through the blog posts. With so many words flying over the internet each day, you choose to read mine. There is really not a greater honor you could pay a writer. Like a chef who prepares a sumptuous meal, she wants people to savor and enjoy her creations. Thank you for sitting at my table. Your fellowship is welcomed, and I am humbled.
I realize many of you are at different places in your lives, so I send this Christmas prayer, inspired by Psalms 8,16, 18, 37 and 62 from The Passion Translation...