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.
The reporter interviewed the Middle Eastern shepherd about his vocation, but I lost track of the main point of the story. All I could focus on was the lamb the shepherd held on his hip. The lamb's legs dangled down toward the shepherd's knees, the creature perfectly relaxed, its eyes at half-mast--drowsy, peaceful. The shepherd continued to speak with the reporter, but never loosened his grip on the vulnerable, white-faced lamb. In that dusty, hostile terrain, I noted the sweetness of the shepherd's embrace, the lamb's silent trust.
The shepherd interview made me think of a recent interaction. I received a phone call from a woman I'd not heard from in months. We used to work together and occasionally went out to lunch. She'd moved on to another job. Our lunches were often sprinkled with converstation about our faith in God. I was honestly surprised to hear from her and even more startled at her direct question after our pleasantries. "Priscilla, what would you say is the most important aspect in your relationship with God?"
"I'm curious why you're asking?"
"I'm not sure, really. I think maybe because whenever we were together you often spoke about the importance of grace. I'm not sure I understand grace. You came to mind. I know we've not spoken for a while. Sorry if I'm catching you off guard."
Fog covered my view of the city as I drove across the bridge. I thought of the story in the Old Testament when God led the Israelites through the desert--a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night. This low-lying cloud seemed to symbolize my artist's journey for the last fifteen years--following that metaphorical cloud--trusting I'd be led to the next stop. These thoughts ran through my head as I made my way to a writing workshop. The location for the class was close to my house. I had confidence that I'd find the Eclectic Cafe quickly. I'd be early.
I missed my turn. I became lost in my own city. My GPS went berserk, and I drove around in circles. Finally, I stopped and asked for help. "Where is Spring Street?" I spoke loudly from the car window, the fog still thick. The kind woman's face looked blurred. She yelled back, "You're close. Go straight, and it's to the right." Thank God. I sweated with apprehension. The workshop had already started. I would not be early. I hated being late, everyone looking at me, an interruption.
I couldn't find parking--so many one way streets. At one point I drove down a street the wrong way, another driver enraged and flipping me off. How could I be so stupid? My thinking gradually deteriorated as I drove maniacally looking for parking. "I might as well pack it up and go home; it's hopeless. I'm already late." I sat at a stop sign ready to turn right and head home, then looked up and there just across the street was an open space. Was I hallucinating? There were no "Two Hour" parking signs--no "Parking Pass Required" warnings. I'd have a long walk. I'd go. I arrived sweating and somewhat off kilter--very, very late. But there at the table sat five other smiling artists who welcomed me, embraced me. "We just now started. Sit down. We're so happy to see you."
People fly all over the world to see ancient ruins, to stand in the midst of partial walls and leftover temples. There is no judgment about what's not there. There is respect for the beauty that remains.
I am fascinated, too, with ruined things, abandoned things. Just the other day I ran across a picture online of photographs Romain Veillon shot of abandoned places. One, in particular, caught my eye, the photo I've used in this post. The picture captures the teacup ride, inoperable at a now defunct Disney park in Japan. As I looked at the photo, I thought of the first time I rode the teacup ride when I lived in southern California as a young writer. My job was located just down the expressway from Anaheim. I'd drive for an hour and a half and be at Disneyland, that enchanted kingdom I'd dreamed about since girlhood. I loved the teacup ride, the way I could twist the wheel in the middle and twirl and twirl, my hair blown back, laughing. Pleasure.
The manuscript languishes. I have not touched it in three months. I wrote 25,000 words on my latest book and then got stuck. In the last ninety days a close colleague passed away, my boss of ten years moved on, and I escaped Hurricane Matthew. Over these last few months I've felt as if I'm swimming in the ocean at night. There is no sunlight penetrating the depths; there is moonlight, pale and smoldering in the darkness. I hear my breath as I turn my face to the side, taste salt on my lips. My feet make subtle splashes as my body undulates across the murky waves. My arms keep moving; I try not to think about the creatures beneath me. Sharks. I force my mind to think about the shoreline in the distance. I know it's there. I'm convinced I'm swimming in the right direction, paddling under the specter moon, my sole companions the constellations overhead--the grace of God my buoyancy.
There is a hint of autumn about. I took advantage of the subtle change and headed out for a walk, the sun warm on my back, like a lover's gentle touch. How good it felt to be moving, lifting my face to the sky, inhaling the freshness of the day. One more day. New mercies.
Fisherman dotted the tidal creek where I typically walk. I longed for solitude so headed another direction--to a piece of property in my neighborhood that sits back on a wooded lot. The house that once stood is gone. A vine-covered foundation is the only remaining visage of the long-ago home. I'm drawn to this property again and again. Sometimes I perform stretching exercises on the cement foundation. A stage.