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.
This week I continue with another excerpt from the book I'm currently writing, What Lies Between Us. The book follows the true story of a marriage that intersects two cultures--two relational geographies.
"I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn."~Anne Frank
Thunder growled outside. I looked out of my front window and noted the clouds--gray plumes that created a shadowy covering for the day. I didn't really mind. It would feel good to be in the house with Emma. I looked at my gigantic dog sleeping on the sofa. How did I ever become a companion with such a large creature? At her last vet visit she weighed in at ninety pounds. Granted she was slightly overweight, but not by much. Her girth took up most of the couch. I sat down beside her and rested my hand on one of her velvety ears. She raised her head and looked sleepily at me, her eyes narrowed. She siged, then laid her head back down. "We have it good today, Emma. A cozy day inside, just the two of us." By that time, the rain came down in sheets, pelting the window pane and blurring the green fronds of the Palmetto Palm gowing stately in the front yard.
I got up and headed for my bedroom. Today I had two tasks. The first to neaten up my walk-in closet, and the second to work on the book I was writing. Lately, writing had begun to surface in my life again. I'd always had a fondness for words, even as a child.
Last week I began writing my fourth book--working title: What Lies Between Us. In 2005 I wrote my first book, An Ocean Away, a memoir of how I met and married my Italian husband. We've been married now for eleven years and the story continues. Initially an ocean separated us. As time rolls on we no longer navigate an ocean, but we do grapple with other elements perhaps even more daunting than the wide Atlantic. I offer a sample here.
"I feel like running away today. I would like to go somewhere and make lists to feel better. Today I feel as if I'm swimming in the ocean and I can't touch bottom. While the water is warm, it is deep and the waves sometimes crash over my head, the saltwater briny as it washes down my throat. I cough and spew and fight against the taste. I want life to be easier, less messy, more predictable. So today, when it isn't, I can trust that God is here amidst the enormity."--Journal entry, February 2005
The refrigerated air hits my face as I enter his office. As I step into the waiting room, a slender, smooth-skinned woman--young and green-eyed greets me. Looking at her tailored clothing and perfectly coiffed hair, I suddenly feel old and somewhat disheveled, having driven to the appointment in the heat of the Carolina day, the walk from my car to the office causing me to perspire, my suit jacket wrinkled after a day at work. The lovely girl tells me with flawless courtesy, "Wes will be right with you." As I wait to speak with my financial consultant I stare down at the plush Oriental rug beneath my shoes--the swirls of sage, burgandy, cream and black so pretty--no crumbs or threads. I think of my own rug at home--always a few stray pieces of grass embedded in the carpet strands--and yes, surely crumbs.
Her accent caught my attention. Elizabeth Jose is an artist from Great Britain who lives in Taos, New Mexico. The day I had the pleasure of meeting her, I was visiting my sister who has a cabin near that famous artists' colony. She, my other two sisters and I were out for the afternoon browsing art galleries. As I perused the gallery, I discovered that Elizabeth Jose's pieces,Artist included oils of vintage airstreams and trucks. A particular painting of a red pickup truck captured my attention. Red pickup trucks are important to me. They symbolize a promise from God that came in a dream.
Today I wondered what is the worth of a day? So begins the first chapter of The Folded Clock--a book by Heidi Julavits. The material comprises two years in the life of the author in diary form. And as might be expected, the story takes on the surprise, humor, delight and ambivalence of her life, because that is reality.
I can relate. I attempt to focus on that very delicate balance of keeping life "day to day." I often fail, allowing the past to poke around in my psyche. "Oh God, if only I hadn't spent that money," or "I should have not said that or eaten that huge piece of pie." Sometimes I shift gears, and it's not ghosts noisily clamoring in my past, but rather anxieties spooling their way into my future like coarse thread. "I don't think I'll ever be able to finish that book project--I'm not good enough. I don't know enough. What if my health doesn't hold out? I'm getting old." I know that this type of thinking is not helpful, so I constantly go back to the concept of what I call "increments." Taking life in small steps and noticing the good helps me more than anything. And this is a coping tool that is not new. Jesus talks about the concept in Matthew 6:34 (The Message): Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.