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.
The asphalt road spooled before me, like a black river. Trees wearing fall reds and golds bordered the thoroughfare. I could hear leaves gently rustling in the cool breeze. Rays of sunlight lasered through tree branches, an impossibly blue sky peered down on me. I could hardly comprehend the beauty of orange leaves falling at my feet. I welcomed the slight muscle strain I felt in my calves as I made my way up and down the hills of a country road in Oklahoma. One of my sisters owns a cabin in those woods, and invited my other sister and me to spend a few days on a retreat.
I had stolen away from our talk fest to take a walk, to work out some of my thoughts and feelings that bothered me. I felt intimidated by my two sisters. I felt envious. Both of them were physically beautiful and fit. I'd struggled with my weight since becoming ill last year--hadn't taken off the last ten pounds of the twenty I'd gained during chemo. I continued to feel ambivalent about the decision to let my hair reamin silver. I was the youngest of the three. Surely I appeared to be the oldest sister now. They, too, lived such lives of purpose, their faith in God genuine. Tangible. They were organized and productive, their homes beautifully decorated. In comparison, I felt less-than. I struggled with almost everything that seemed to come more easily for them. My thoughts spiraled increasingly toward the negative. A voice in my head gently said, "Don't do this. Don't do this to yourself, or to your sisters. You know they love you unconditionally. No matter how you look or what you have or don't have." I sensed God say, "Look. Look at the sunlight penetrating through the groves of trees. That sunlight is like my light of grace piercing through the toxicity of comparison. Listen to the sunlight."
I challenged a friend and fellow artist to write an essay. Included is her piece that captures the concept of time and memory in such a lovely way...
If Boxes Could Talk
by Medge Dayton
When I looked through my extensive collection of cardboard boxes, I realized I needed to make a trip to a local storage facility to purchase just the right size box for mailing. I entered the office and observed a variety of boxes neatly stacked according to size--large ones for hanging garments, medium ones for various purposes. Small ones as well. I bought two. When I returned home, I was pleased that one of the boxes was the perfect size for mailing the items I'd carefully wrapped and tied with a bright yellow ribbon for a dear friend's birthday. As I placed the gifts into the box, I could picture my friend's excitement and pleasure. The box held happy moments for both of us.
Holding onto my thoughts throughout the day, I contemplated the various human emotions associated with boxes--how those emotions play out in our lives. I recalled a sad email I'd received a few days earlier. The boxes packed by a family of five would be far from joyful. The breadwinner had been told he was no longer needed by his employer. Breaking the news to his wife and children was painful--an eviction notice imminent, the rent already past due. Where would they go? What would they do? Who would help? Perhaps the boxes labeled boldly in black (kitchen, living room, books, toys) also contained myriad tears.
You'll resume your singing, grabbing tambourines and joining the dance.~Jeremiah 31:4 (The Message)
Disheartening statements came at me like bullets. The words were not aimed directly at me. The dark reports came from people I love and admire. "I am constantly filled with self-doubt," he said. "The workplace has become a jungle. I feel left behind inside the competition. Some of my colleagues take Adderall to stay energetic enough to keep up. I've seriously thought about trying to get a prescription from my doctor." Another person told me that she had made the brave decision to pursue a graduate degree. In the process she said that a professor from the esteemed university advised her to abandon her entire portfolio and begin again. The collection of her writing contained years of artistic efforts. I became filled with anger at the censors that appear in peoples' lives--the criticism and expectation of perfectionism searing, burning. How do we cope? What brings relief?
My eyes flew open. At once I could see a soft, bluish light beginning to fill the hotel room through the sliding glass window. My husband and I had gotten away for a couple of days to celebrate our anniversary. We'd forgotten to pull the curtain before going to bed, and now our room was bathed in a mesmerizing azure light. I rose, curious to go out on our balcony that faced the ocean. The sky appeared to shimmer, golden shards of light streaming through the clouds. A fresh wind blew my hair back from my face. I could see the waves foaming and frothing at the shoreline, hear their whispers. I'd read about "the blue hour" that occurs just before sunrise and after sunset, when the sun is below the horizon, when the sky is deep cobalt and the landscape is suffused with bluish light. I basked in that tranquil hour and wished I could stop time, the magical light like something otherworldly.
The balcony seemed to beckon me all weekend. Each time I stood by the railing and looked out over the horizon, I felt as if I'd been touched by the poetry of sky and sea, my heart made serene by the ocean's companionable presence. I would have lingered there for days.
"I just want peace," he said. "My life is full of anxiety that I can't shake." Behind the silver-framed glasses his eyes glistened with tears, youth reflected in the smooth brown cheeks. Dark tendrils of hair hung around his face, loosened from the man bun he sported. He talked to me in a quiet fury of words. He was in my office for an appointment to test for HIV. I often hear words from people that have been compressed for long periods of time--feelings and issues that are seemingly unrelated to having their finger pricked for the blood sample and assessing vulnerabilities for exposure to the HIV virus. He went on. "This world is too chaotic--climate change, the crazy politics, pressure to work long hours. I want to be like you. You seem so calm." All of this in one brief encounter. A man I'd never met. A man I'd likely not meet again.
Little did this individual realize how well I could relate with his emotions. If I appeared calm, my demeanor was a result of God's grace in my life. The day this lovely man came to my office, I'd had an internal meltdown of sorts--bemoaning many of the same feelings of anxiety--pressure at work to perform, the polarized political environment; global agony with tsunamis and tornadoes, floods and fires. "God," I prayed. "How do I manage these feelings of helplessness and panic?"