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.
I don't write because I think I have something to say. I write because if I don't everything feels even worse.~Lily King (From Writers and Lovers)
When a book is published, it feels like a birth. I don't remember the years of gestation--the rewrites, the monotonous edits, the labor. What I see is the beautiful brain child with all its uniqueness. A sort of falling in love. A mother bear instinct kicks in, for no other reason than the book is mine.
Writing is primarily a refuge for me, not a burden. I started writing The Light By Which We See in 2016. The manuscript sat idle for months, until in 2017 my oldest sister passed away and I was diagnosed with cancer. The majority of the manuscript was written when I underwent chemotherapy and grieved my sister's death. I discovered that when I could get to the page and write, I was transported out of the grief and despair. Writing the book became my way of escape. The page was always there for me. A retreat and steady companion. I cannot underestimate the peace and grace of God I found when I wrote during this period in my life.
I have a sterling silver ring that I wear every day. The ring is shaped in a curve. I bought it as a reminder that life is not lived in a straight line, from A to B to C to D. In our culture, though, that is somehow the belief and expectation. I find myself demanding those outcomes from my brief life. "You're supposed to be at this place on the line now. What is wrong with you?" I look at my life and it's not a line--it's a collection of arcs and drop-offs where I quit things. Some of the circular paths are worn down like a beaten path to a favorite spot. Other paths have high grass that has never been mowed and likely never will be. What's the answer? I think for me it is embracing and accepting that life is imperfect. I'm imperfect. Other people are imperfect. And so the task is to keep re-accepting this truth and allowing my life to be lived with circuitous routes, knowing that because the Lord is with me, I'm successful.~(From my book, On A Clear Blue Day).
This morning I feel as if I'm on a journey that has plunged me into territory that is wild and untraveled. I decided to formally retire from my job as a substance use counselor, the job and identity I've had for the last 23 years. I feel fear about what I don't know. Simultaneously, I sense I "know" more than I give myself credit for as I follow the pathway to what's next.
Maybe I'm trying to be too careful, too perfectionistic as I move forward in this landscape that is unfamiliar. What if I could embrace the mystery, enjoy the views that I could see nowhere else? What if I could enjoy myself? What if I could trust that the tools and supplies in my backpack are enough? More than enough? What if I'm walking in abundance and not scarcity as I fear? What if this place is filled to overflowing?
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.