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.
...and how I love your handwriting, that running shadow of your voice.~Vladimir Nabokov (From Letters To Vera)
There's a corner in my living room where I like to sit. While there, I can see out my east-facing window. A stand of trees is a backdrop for the sky. This morning I'm in my chair before dawn and I am restless. My mind races with the list of things I've assigned myself for the day. I don't feel like doing any of the tasks. I ask myself why I am restless. I realize that I often put myself under critical scrutiny. You must be productive, always about getting things done. You actually should have done more for______. The blank space is heavy with guilt for loved ones and people in need I could do more for, love better. I realize, too, that I am restless because I feel lonely. Bored even. Checking off lists and following a pathway of "shoulds" is backbreaking, my self-effort unreliable. There's always one more thing that can be done. Always one more chore that calls. But flurries of activity often lead me to procrastinate. I just can't do it all, I lament. No. I can't.
I rise from my chair to heat my cold cup of coffee in the microwave. While I wait for the coffee to warm, I open a drawer to get out my notepad. I spy an old grocery list my husband wrote weeks ago, maybe months ago. The items on the list don't change much. I note the rounded letters, the little slashes he places at the top of his "ones," the marks in the middle of his "sevens," some items written in Italian, others in English. Seeing his script makes me glad. It's almost like he's walked in the room seeing that familiar script, that running shadow of his voice.
Adler didn't just look at someone; he looked into them, without judgment, with the sort of empathy they couldn't find anywhere else.~Elizabeth Brundage (From The Vanishing Point)
There is nothing like being truly seen by another. Have you experienced it? Sometimes the beauty of being seen catches me off guard. I remember one day in a counseling appointment, my therapist said something like, "You couldn't 'rock the boat' in your family system, could you? I mean being the youngest by so many years, you had to keep the peace, help maintain the family protocols that were in place long before you came into the picture." At that moment in the quiet space of the therapy room, I felt seen. Comforted that perhaps my tendency toward "keeping the peace" and "people pleasing" had some reasoning and validity regarding my adult behaviors. Then sometimes my husband will say, "Oh, Priscilla, you look beautiful," and I touch my face or hair and say, "Oh, but I'm a wreck right now. I'm still in my pajamas, or I don't have on any make-up." And my husband responds, "Why I like you in the natural, because it's the real you." And I relax, and don't try to hide. Or feel embarrassed. When one is seen for who they really are, it extinguishes shame. Ignites love.
She made asterisks next to passages she liked,
little stars that kept shining after she closed the book. ~Billy Collins (From Musical Tables)
This week I found a poetry book in the library, Musical Tables, by Billy Collins. All the poems are short. The author stated that when he peruses poetry books, he looks for the short poems. I do too. Maybe when I look for short poems, I am really searching for simplicity.
I recently talked to a friend who told me some painful, unexpected circumstances had occurred. He said, "Honestly, I feet gutted and I don't really know what to do next." He said he was trying to "keep things simple" in order to survive. He told me that on one horrible day, he cleaned his house and listened to music. He stated that it seemed rather trite to clean house and listen to music when his world felt as if it was imploding. "But it helped," he said. Another day he said the feelings of uncertainty felt so overwhelming he turned up the volume on worship songs he was listening to, fell on his knees and sang, praising God. That simple, authentic act of surrender encouraged him.
Molton was full on gospel blues, "truth music" as she referred to it, which dealt with the struggles of everyday life.~Kreg Yingst
Last week I slowly walked an art gallery featuring Kreg Yingst's woodblock prints entitled "Psalms and Lamentations." Each woodblock featured a black performer who sang the blues and the gospel. Beside each square block of wood, Yingst provided a narrative of the person's life journey, showcasing their tenacity to keep singing. I kept returning to read about the life of Flora Molton.
Flora was legally blind, but didn't let that barrier stop her. She often performed on the corner of F Street NW and 7th Street NW in downtown Washington DC where she played a bottleneck slide guitar. She sang while tapping a tambourine with her foot and played a harmonica that was mounted around her neck. She collected change from passers-by in a plastic pail. But the street life was tough and she wanted out. Despite her attempts to pick up work she wound up back on her corner, strumming her guitar and singing her combination of gospel and blues.
Flora captured my attention, I think, because sometimes it can feel futile to keep singing, to keep writing or painting. To simply bury the poems in a drawer, throw out the paint. And like Flora, realize that to make ends meet, there must be other income besides what the songs bring in. Yet she kept going back to her art, back to her corner to belt out her blues and gospel tunes.
LEITMOTIF/lite mow teef: A recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea or situation.
I keep a list of vocabulary words that I don't know. The word leitmotif emerges, and its meaning intrigues me as I reflect at year's end. What are recurrent themes?
Chairs keep coming up. I like chairs and have many sitting in corners of my home, most with a comfortable pillow to cushion the back. I even had a dream recently that I was given a chair, and I loved it--wanted to sit right down and rejoice in its comfort. Perhaps chairs symbolize rest and contemplation--themes I go back to again and again. Seated in a quiet corner with a book or reading the Scriptures. Praying. Connecting with God. Listening. Tuning into Him, like one of those old radios. Twisting the dial through all the hissing static until I find a frequency with beautiful music or a program that resounds for the moment. Vintage concepts, I know.