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.
What we cannot recognize, we oftentimes will not protect.~Taylor Brorby (From Boys And Oil)
It is four a.m. I cannot stop thinking about Charlie (not his real name). The last time I saw him was in July. I cut up his food. He'd recently had dental work and had a hard time chewing, his mouth and gums sore from oral surgery. I don't remember that he seemed unhappy. He laughed and joined in the lively conversation around the table at my daughter and son-in-law's home.
Charlie took his life last week, though. What happened? Or I wonder now what didn't happen for him? My daughter and son-in-law became friends with Charlie more than a decade ago. He lived with them for several months when he became paralyzed from the waist down. They played a significant role in supporting him on multiple levels, and Charlie was often at birthday parties and other events hosted in their home. He always seemed jolly and well-adjusted regarding the disability. He had merry eyes. I remember thinking when I saw him last, when we sat out back on the deck, that his eyes were like two blue crescents that glinted in the sunlight. I don't think I ever truly recognized him. Not really. I was just polite. I never asked him what his dreams were or what his days were like being homebound in a wheelchair. I feel guilty about that now.
Sometimes your life changes in big, dramatic ways, as though you've been cast in a play you don't remember auditioning for.~Jess Walter (From The Angel of Rome)
I didn't expect to like Italy so much. Some people might ask, "Priscilla what could you not possibly like about that country...I mean the food, the wine, the ornate cathedrals, the architecture? The castles, the cerulean lakes, the people? Are you crazy?" There is nothing more vivid than the country's beauty, its houses painted deep salmon and pink, ochre and yellow, lavender mountain ranges outlined in the distance. Everywhere one looks, there is all of that. My experience in past years when I'd visit was to survive--family gatherings and packed schedules, the beauty as fleeting in my memory as a locomotive rushing past. There was no way to count all the train cars. I came home exhausted and headed back to work.
This time, I still spoke the language with less skill than a four-year-old. But I couldn't remember audititioning for this play. This theater production was slower. I sat at the train tracks and had time to count the cars. The pace was slow enough to allow a savoring of the beauty, to practice speaking, to receive the love of my husband and his family. Each day while there I would write in my journal and ask myself, "How do I keep it simple today? What are my lines for the day's script? What am I grateful for?" Somehow, the day would fall into place, the landscape of the country a stage. I felt sad to leave. I wanted more time in the boot.
I finally looked hard through the window of memory, a neat square cut into the years.~Darin Strauss (From Half A Life)
I step back and look into the window of memories I've carved out while in Italy. Days spent with my husband exploring small villages by motorcycle have created new intimacies with him. I'm grateful for our dreamscape adventures in his beautiful country.
Too, I'm reminded as I've spent time in a new culture, how much more alike people are than different.
The nextdoor neighbor patiently cares for her husband who is cognitively impaired after a stroke. The young, virile son of a loved one suffers a random accident while playing soccer. How will this change his life? His viewpoint?
People gather in outdoor cafes, earbuds in place, connected to their phones and screens.
I stand in an elevator with an immigrant family. The mother wears an ankle-length, black and white print dress. My eyes are drawn to her worn sandals, her swollen feet. The father holds his toddler's hand. The little boy looks up at me and I smile at him. He waves shyly and says, "ciao." I meet the mother's gaze; her soulful brown eyes say with no words that she is strong. I wonder if my eyes communicate admiration. When she and her husband step out of the elevator, I notice an infant swaddled on her back. I wonder about her story.
Thanksgiving is our dialect.~From Ephesians 5:4 (The Message)
I fell off my bicycle. Right before I fell, my mind moved into that weird space of slow motion where I realized I couldn't stop, yet knew I'd fall. Then boom. I toppled over and landed with a thud mercifully on a mound of grass. I wasn't hurt, but shaken up. I haven't been back on the bike. I want to get back on. I will get back on.
Then there's another kind of metaphorical bike riding with the Italian language. Yesterday, I went shopping alone in Italy. The experience was like getting back on the bike after a fall. I've made many mistakes while attempting to speak Italian--so many, in fact, that it feels hard to keep trying.
I found a pathway in Italy, a ribbon of blacktop cut through the countryside where I enjoy walking. One day I spied a sign while on the trail, "Zona di Rifugio." In Italian this means "Refuge Zone." The field is an immense space where birds and other animals can feed and roam freely, protected from hunters.
Light fills this pathway. Perhaps the light is what I love most about my time in this region. Dappled light accents ancient stone floors in the cathedrals; streaming golden rays cast light on massive columns. The glory of stained glass, deep hues of orchid and red, cerulean and amber glow from circular windows. Frescoes and paintings reflect the beauty of both shadow and brilliance. Bougainvillea spills gleaming and purple from balconies.