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.
He looked dispirited--hanks of greasy blond hair plastered to his forehead, dark circles under his eyes--like he hadn't slept in about a hundred years. "Arthur (not his real name), you look sad," I said.
"I am, Priscilla. You'll never guess what happened. Victoria (not her real name) broke up with me. I haven't been able to sleep. I've been obsessing about how she could do this. I mean we were thinking about marriage." He stopped talking and looked down at his hands. He sighed. The ticking clock in my office seemed unusually loud as we sat together. I gave him time to say more.
"Priscilla, it was just so quick. We woke up one morning, and I went to the kitchen like I usually do and began making the coffee and toast. I even remember I was whistling. I felt happy, Priscilla, that I had a woman in my life that I loved." At that point, Arthur raised his head, made eye contact and swiped at the hair now covering one of his eyes. "She came right into the kitchen, Priscilla, and just said, 'I can't do this anymore, Arthur. We've moved too fast. I need to get out of the relationship.' And she's gone, Priscilla. Gone."
The day was mild, spring elbowing its way in. I caught the startling wisps of green beginning to appear on dark tree branches, and sunlight dappled the pathway my husband and I walked to buy our tickets for a boat ride down the Seine, enjoying one more day in the "City of Light."
The boat wasn't crowded, so we sat alone near the back, holding hands and lost in our own reverie as we cruised down the peaceful, gray-green river. At one point I happened to notice a balcony of an apartment building. The balcony was constructed of wrought iron swirls, simultaneously delicate and sturdy. Almost all the apartments in Paris have balconies, but this one was different in that the windows were open. I could see sheer drapes billowing in the breeze. I imagined the owners desired for that spring air to bring refreshment and fragrance to an apartment shut tight all winter. Lookng at the open window gave me a desire to simply sit on that balcony, sip a cup of hot, flavorful coffee and look out at the tranquil river.
I suppose what that balcony represented to me was a longing to have breathing room. I have trouble seizing breathing room for myself. My world calls out to pay more attention to its whims and words and worries. I know its language well. I speak fluently and get caught up in its drive to produce, its lists and tyrannies of the urgent, people pleasing and duties to keep up "religious norms." But there is a different language--a Kingdom language. It is foreign. My lips don't quite fit around the contours of its new sounds--sounds so beautiful that they emit a fragrance--the scent of the most exquisite perfume--like jasmine blooming. This language is the sound of rushing, cleansing waters and the sight of cerulean skies and pure white clouds. I want to abide in the geography of this language and let it become my mother tongue. But how? Oh my God, how?
Once upon a time I was a missionary--of a sort. I worked as a writer for Campus Crusade For Christ's publication department. I wrote feature stories for their magazine, Worldwide Challenge, acted as a ghost writer for the superstars in the organization, and created copy for brochures and other newsletters. I basically wrote whatever my editor told me to. I got pretty good at it, honestly. I'd drive my little 1979 brown Camaro to the office and furiously type away on my electric typewriter (really, it was typewriters in those days). I actually missed my manual that I used all through college--wish I'd kept it now. But I wax nostalgic...
At one point, my assignment was to create a different, more pleasing name for what Campus Crusade described as aggressive evangelism. Bill Bright had a vision that everyone in the world hear the gospel of Jesus, so each staff member committed to a practice of regularly going out on the street or the beach and talking to people about Jesus. The higher ups didn't really like the word "agressive," although our required evangelistic practices were certainly that, in my opinion. I never really came up with another better descriptor. About the best I could come up with was assertive. But that was lame. The assignment got dropped, and I think the powers that be stuck with aggressive.
I was really never a Beach Boys fan. I can remember hearing their surf songs, but even as a child in the sixties, I didn't pay much attention to their music. I remember watching The Ed Sullivan Show and seeing the band, girls in bikinis dancing atop surfboards next to them.
But then my daughter suggested I watch the movie, Love and Mercy. "It's about Brian Wilson, the lead singer from the Beach Boys. Believe me, it's not cheesy, Mom. You'll love it." I doubted her recommendation, honestly. I did not have any musical connection to the Beach Boys. I forgot about her suggestion. Several months later on my weekly sojourn to the library, I saw the movie in the rack. What could it hurt?
Sometimes the week is a collective of hard things. Things that, if I'm honest, I rail against. I feel self-pity. I have a dress rehearsal as the victim of "Life Most Unfair." The title of my imaginary play is apt. The client's son died a year ago at age four, and she misses him. "I sit in his room sometimes,"she says. "I remember him laughing. I still see him laughing."
Another day I bite down on a Skittle. I never eat Skittles. It is purple. My tooth breaks. My tongue keeps darting to the tooth's ragged edge, even with the bonding material the gentle dentist placed on it for a temporary repair before the crown can be affixed. I looked at that little sliver of white in my palm when I bit down hard and realized it wasn't the shell of the purple Skittle. Such a small thing to break.
Broken hearts. Broken teeth. Where does God fit into the cracked places? Does he speak to us?