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.
It can happen early--that drive to be perfect. Linear. Following all the rules. No mercy. A good friend told me recently that when she was a young girl, she wore undies embroidered with the days of the week. She said she felt guilty if she realized she wore Tuesday on Thursday or Monday on Friday--her mind and heart disturbed that she was somehow out of synch--not following the days of the week in perfect order.
We live in a world that often chases the childlikeness out of us. "Fit in. Conform. Stay in the box, please." Yet we know the beauty of a child's attempts at something difficult--when they use what they have--when they do what they can--no obsession with an outcome. Last week my four-year-old granddaughter sent me a text. It read: Dady and ie or having fun. Momo brot sum library buks mabe we kan rede them. Lv lilly. My son-in-law wrote back: "Lilly wanted to text you, and typed that all out for you with no help from me. She took the phone and wrote that herself."
When childlikeness surfaces, those faint traces of "I could try that," or "that may be fun," we often turn away thinking, "Who am I kidding? I don't have what it takes to...go on that trip, draw that image; create that recipe like Martha Stewart would."
I have been known to buy lipstick simply because I'm intrigued by its name--Barely Nude, Just So, Moxie Be Bold, Arm Candy, Persimmon Canyon or Dragon Fruit. Is there such fruit? Yes. And it's as bright as the pink shade of that tube of lipstick I bought at the CVS without knowing what color I was getting. Lipstick is comforting.
Before work the last thing I do is apply lipstick. I select a shade and glide the creamy silkiness across my lips. The vibrancy of color brightens my face and buoys my mood. Sometimes I write a note to my husband and kiss the paper, the lip print an authentic "sealed with a kiss."
Just this week I listened to a Ted Talk. A brave woman spoke of helping other women in war zones. When she asked the women living in those dangerous territories some of the supplies they wanted, she was surprised to hear that one of the requested items was lipstick. "If we're going to get shot, let those who would shoot us or bomb us know they are killing beautiful women."
"God is the author of both love and creativity...it is your creative voice He waits to hear...no one can express the reality of your interior life; you are the only qualified author for this creative work."~Kari Kristina Reeves (from the book, Canyon Road).
I didn't want to write about my feelings of anger. That was the task Julia Cameron asked me to contemplate as I journey my way through her book, Walking In This World, The Practical Art of Creativity. She asked for fifty issues that brought out feelings of anger. Did I have fifty items? This assignment felt counterintuitive. Wouldn't it be more productive to write fifty things that caused joy, brought delight? I hesitated, desiring retreat from the homework. Yet Ms. Cameron coaxed, "When we think of our anger as something that should be excised or denied rather than alchemized, we risk neutering ourselves as artists." I began.
At first I doubted I could name fifty. As I allowed myself to ponder, the list materialized--People who can't say "I don't know"; the insensitive man who told me my eyebrows reminded him of Mr. Spock; suffering children and animals; writers who glamorize depression; selfish people; ungracious, negative, critical people; complainers; worriers; feeling tired of upholding others; not getting paid for writing; judgmental attitudes and over-intellectualizing; porn; magazines that don't even bother to respond to submissions; people who think God is mean; loss of youth and bad TV.
It's an old tree. I'll bet if I could see its rings, they'd go round and round--internal circles of patience and wisdom. I love this tree.
The ancient oak is stationed just down the road from my home. It is huge, but not looming. Welcoming. Its limbs are dark arms. Often I climb up into those boughs, an embrace. I rest there, leaning my back against the tree's sturdy trunk.
The tree has heard my buried secrets, my longings, my praise, my prayers, my supplication.
This oak tree reminds me of God. The listener. It's easy to love someone who listens. You know the feeling--the experience of being in their presence. They look at you, and you perceive they're moored to whatever it is you're saying, telling. They're unrushed. They're not waiting to get a word in--head tilted to one side, an ear cocked. They don't want to miss anything you have to say. They lean forward. You relax. You don't have to hurry up and finish what you're saying, because you can tell that they're not dying to say something--to assail you with their piece, their opinion. And your story spills out, like a spool unwinding, a sail unfurling. Their silent attention brings clarity. Truth surfaces.
We sat around their little white art table. Baby Jonathan held a miniature rubber basketball and gleefully chanted "ball, ball, ball." Lilly drew a picture on pink paper. I marinated in their midst absorbing the innocent presence, embraced by their peace, the warmth of our fellowship. "What are you creating, Lilly?" I asked. On her sheet of pink paper she'd drawn multiple pairs of eyes in black ink--dotted lines spilling from the eyes down the page. "These are Martians. The Martians are crying."
It struck me then that perhaps a four-year-old had unconsciously tapped into the Zeitgeist of our world. Weeping, weeping, weeping for all the tragedies stacked up so high we can barely breathe. If Martians were looking on at our planet they surely would be crying for us.
Earlier in the week, I'd awakened with a prayer in my mind that poured out of my lips. "Teach me how to rejoice, God. Help me learn the art of rejoicing." Where did this prayer come from? This was the polar opposite of what I should be feeling, what I should be expressing. All this racial unrest, all this killing and pain--the confusion and uncertainty--the trauma and blood. Could there be a place for rejoicing?