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.
I got through yesterday. All day I felt as if I would burst into tears, on the verge of spilling drops of salty wetness down my face. My colleague with whom I'd worked for eight years was moving to another state. How would I carry the load without her? Could I carry it?
I got in my car and drove to work, validating myself that I'd managed to groom my overgrown hair into some semblance of style, chosen some clothes that looked professional. Donned my COVID mask. When I made my way across the bridge to the office, clouds stacked in gray mounds greeted me, speared through with early light. I heard myself sigh, as if the sadness finally had an exit. The sky acted as a faithful companion in its splendor, assuaging my grief and lament--a friend who could sit with me in silence, acknowledging my authentic feelings of loss and loneliness. Not judging, but rather enfolding me in its understanding. And I, too, could offer the sky my unconditional positive regard, not requiring its expanse to be filled with light or reflect purest blue. Whether the heavens were streaked with orange at sunset or displayed the color of steel, or wept with rain, the sky was there. Always.
A strange and unpredictable breach will always exist between what we want to make and what we are able to make. The important thing is to embrace that breach. Every songwriter, architect, painter, actress, chef, choreographer, teacher and dreamer has been afraid her project would cave in; every artist has believed her work was inadequate...the beauty is not in the result, but in the attempt. To build our castles in the clouds--to sew a quilt, to start a painting, even to write a single satisfying paragraph--we need to live with the fear that we will stink, that no one will pay any attention, that we will fall like trees in an empty forest; the fear that we are going to take our glorious, flawless, nebulous ideas and butcher them on the altar of reality. Not only is it OK to risk failure; it's necessary.~Anthony Doerr
I couldn't stop dreaming that year. In 2014, I recorded at least forty-three dreams I had between April and October. Those dreams were like night maps, directing me to the next steps for my life and for my book project. The dreams contained a common theme as well. Threaded through almost every one, people appeared that wanted to help me. I had never met any of them, and sometimes there was a group of benevolent guides. I wondered if they might be angels. Was that too weird?
I had finished the manuscript for On A Clear Blue Day in February, and by July all the edits had been completed. In August, I'd begun the publishing process. I was mired in conflict, though, about the cover. The artist I'd hired to design the cover couldn't execute the image I wanted to convey. He tried. Mightily. I almost gave in to accepting what he'd designed, because we were both fatigued, and he'd already provided three options. Wasn't one of them good enough?
Then I dreamed on September 6, 2014...
I am tired now of the responsibilities. Fatigue comforts my weary bones;
Too tired to long, too tired to desire,
I rest in the surety of your strength,
Cradled.~Kari Kristina Reeves (From Canyon Road, A Book of Prayers)
The word came to me. Landed softly in my brain. Maybe I needed that little word that meant big, immense. Vast was the word. I hung onto it, and the word led to a memory. A remembrance that emerged as a photograph, like paper sloshed in solution in the sanctuary of a darkroom.
I was five and stood with my father near the edge of the Grand Canyon. He held my hand, but we didn't speak. Just gazed at the grandeur. I remember the "vastness." I didn't have that word in my vocabulary at age five, yet I witnessed the definition. I remembered, too, the feeling of wonder and the feeling that I was the loved child of my father. As a five-year-old, I'm certain that I felt no obligation or duty to make sense of anything other than the moment of love with my dad and the enjoyment of the resplendent view.
Can I do that now?
Earlier this week, I felt as if someone or something had diluted most of my strength and energy. When I could no longer push through the lethargy to keep working, I allowed the depletion to lead me to a coping tool that can sometimes support me in feeling better. I found Jason Stephenson on YouTube some months ago. He has a soothing voice, and guides the listener through deep breathing and guided imagery. This is what happened...
During the meditation, I envisioned myself in a warmly lit room surrounded by walls of eclectic drawers--blue, turquoise, rose, white, teal and red. Orange. When I opened a drawer, it contained an element of my life--a memory or a photo or an event. There was no judgment or anxiety on my part toward any object or memory I discovered in the drawers. The multitude of remembrances and memory created an alchemy that yielded a valuable whole.
A chair was positioned in the middle of the room, facing a new set of drawers that I'd not yet examined or opened. I sat on the chair's soft and expansive cushions and fell silent in my solitude. I could hear my breath. I relaxed. I sensed that one of the drawers contained an object. I rose from the chair, pulled open the drawer and found a folded sheet of paper. This ended the meditation, and I felt curious about what might be written on that sheet of paper.
Dr. Pauline Boss coined the phrase "ambiguous loss" in the 1970s to describe two types of loss; the first is physical absence with psychological presence (anything from a loved one being lost at sea to experiencing a divorce or adoption). The second is physical presence with psychological absence (a loved one with dementia, for example). These are complicated, confusing kinds of losses that resist closure or resolution.~Rachel Friedman (From And Then We Grew Up--On Creativity, Potential, And The Imperfect Art Of Adulthood)
I've vacillated between these two types of losses during the Pandemic. Some days I've felt the absence of all I knew pre COVID-19--coming and going as I pleased, taking for granted the self-checkout at the library without a thought of asking myself, "Who's been touching this screen before me?" Seeing in person and hugging my children, grandchildren and friends. Then other days I've been a physical presence to my husband, yet exhibited psychologically distant behaviors, detachment a go-to. Not saying much.
Perhaps I practice the discipline of grieving that Henri Nouwen, late theologian, speaks of in his writings. Grief and lament can be a current to take me where I need to go. I've asked myself, "What am I to learn from this experience? What am I to do? What are new thought patterns that can emerge from moving forward through this lock down?"