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.
Stop trying to work things out before their times have come. Accept the limitations of living one day at a time.~Sarah Young
I remember being fascinated that my late, mostly lab Emma, would spend countless hours on the couch looking out the living room window. She loved this "activity." Sometimes she would doze, other times she would emit a few barks if a squirrel scampered across the grass. Often I would note her head moving from side to side as if scanning for something important. I loved that she could remain peaceful with such rudimentary entertainment.
During my second week in Italy I found myself in a similar situation. Learning from Emma. I awakened one morning of that second week feeling horrible. I'd felt exhausted and weak the night before, but believed it was from a busy day of visiting and walking in the brisk air of the little town of Cremona, near our house in the Italian countryside. This was not the case. I could barely breathe, yet my nose ran like a faucet. I felt like someone had stepped on me. Flattened. I knew I wasn't strong enough to carry out the day's activities. "Giovanni, I have to cancel our plans with your sister." And so Giovanni left me there supplied with "fazzoletti" (Kleenex) and cold medication to recover.
A kitten begins dreaming at about one week old.~Sign on a local vet's office
And like the kitten, I dreamed while in Italy--the first night in our little house that was like a sanctuary. In the dream, I saw a blue door with a prominent doorknob. I lay hold of the knob. It felt large under my palm. It was heavy. I gave it a good twist and heard the hopeful click of a door opening. (Is there not a better sound, especially when you fear the disappointment of a locked portal?). I pushed the door open and stepped over the threshold, and then was awake.
Blue in dream symbolism is the color for grace. And in other ways as the trip unfolded, it seemed to symbolize the color of peace. Other times when I'd been to Italy, I felt almost constant anxiety, especially because I had such trouble understanding and speaking the language. At family gatherings my hands would sweat profusely, and I felt so panicky, what little language I knew and understood would fly out of my brain. I went mute. This time, though, I kept telling myself, "Just walk through the blue door. Breathe. Be mindful of the love around you. Be kind with what words you have. Ask open-ended questions. Smile." And so this worked. It was as if a warm breeze kept blowing through my mind reminding me of truth. The Holy Spirit, no doubt.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. ~E. H. Peterson
I'm on the cusp of my journey to Italy. As I think about the adventure and uncertainty ahead, I'm reminded of a dream I had when I was twenty years old. I stood in the open doorway of an airplane, the wind buffeting me as I readied myself to jump. I felt a compilation of anxiety and adrenaline racing through my veins. I was scared. I trembled. Yet somewhere in the back of my mind there was a reservoir of peace, because I knew my instructor was by my side. And I trusted that he had taught me well.
My friend wrote, "Just try and soak up the atmosphere; don't worry about the language." Soon I'm off to Italy, my husband's native country. I'd written to my friend, "I am packed, but emotionally I'm undone, the feelings hanging out of my bags, unkempt and a mess. I've not been able to study the language as much as I'd hoped. I've lost several CDs, and I'm just so tired after work that I struggle with diligent verb conjugation, grammar and vocabulary."
And I've had some disheartening moments in that boot-shaped locale.
On my first trip, I went for an exploratory walk. I was in a residential neighborhood enjoying a sunny day, the houses like giant jolly ranchers stacked next to each other in shades of green, pink and yellow. Tile roofs perched regally in blue skies, pots sat by stone steps filled with bright bursts of red geraniums. A van pulled up beside me, a man alone--handsome and nicely dressed. I wasn't scared. There were children playing in the quaint yards, dogs barking, clothes hanging out to dry. I could hear voices from open windows, everyday life. I thought at first the man might need directions, but as I listened and picked up a few words, it registered in my brain that he thought I was a prostitute. I wasn't dressed provacatively--jeans and a T-shirt, lovely new Italian walking shoes. I felt stunned. I just stood there, paralyzed. I finally managed to say I was an American out for a walk--only a walk. He frowned and actually seemed disappointed, then sped away. I ran back to where Giovanni and I were staying as fast as I could. Later when I told Giovanni about the incident, he said rather nonchalantly, "Oh that neighborhood is known for prostitutes walking around." In some ways, it was kind of a funny story, but in another way, the experience left me feeling anxious and lonely.
I hadn't seen her in months. Only sadness glinted from her eyes. I could hardly meet her blue gaze, the pain almost blinding. "I don't know if you heard. My daughter died of an overdose last year." My mind galloped. I remembered that her daughter was not much past thirty, and she had a young son. My mouth opened, but I was speechless. We were at a book fair. She was volunteering, a glass coffee carafe filled with water secured in one hand, getting ready to brew a pot for the authors gathered. "Oh my God," I managed to whisper. "I had no idea. I'm so very, very sorry." With her free hand she used her ring finger to swipe under both eyes, now pooling with tears, like skies weeping.