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.
It was like trying to dress every morning for the weather in a nation we had never heard of.~Kathryn Schulz (From Lost And Found)
There is a scientific term for a broken heart. According to Florence Williams in her book, Heartbreak, it's called Takotsubo cardiomyopathy. The author states that in 1990 Japanese researchers used new imaging technology to reveal "an unexpected signature of illness." In Takotsubo patients seem to be having a heart attack. However Ms. Williams writes, "What makes these attacks different is that the arteries are free from the typical blockages that cause cardiac failure. Instead, a portion of the left ventricle--the heart's main pumping chamber--wildly under performs, causing it to balloon in compensation. No longer a neat fist, the heart now sprouts a weird distension like an overeager blister. Doctors named the condition Takotsubo after the Japanese lobster trap, which has a narrow neck and bulbous head. In this kind of cardiac event, the heart cells don't necessarily die, but they give up for while...Case literature of Takotsubo patients include recent widows, women whose children or pets just died, and people undergoing other extreme stressors." In 2006 the American Heart Association formally recognized the condition.
Giving up for a while resonates. The heart shouting its imperative amidst the cacophony. "No more."
Some of us come here because we are injured, and need to heal. We suffer from bad backs, fallen arches, shattered dreams, broken hearts, anxiety, melancholia, anhedonia, the usual above ground afflictions...up above there are wildfires, smog alerts, epic droughts, paper jams, teachers' strikes, insurrections, revolutions, blisteringly hot days that never let up.~Julie Otsuka (From The Swimmers)
The above quote is from a book about people who go regularly to a community swimming pool to escape from life stressors, from overthinking, from the weight of their bodies and the weight of the world. When they enter the cool, blue water and begin to swim, it's almost as if their bodies take flight, their spirits rise, now untrammeled by the world's chaotic heaviness.
As I ponder the exultation I've felt when swimming, the freedom in the water, I thought of what we are remembering over these next days--the events of Holy Week. When Jesus gathers His disciples and tells them He chooses to follow through with His mission and go to the cross. His disciples are fearful. No, more than fearful. They are terrified. Confused. They don't want Him to suffer. Then they witness His horrible, ghastly, brutal murder. They are distraught. Traumatized. They defect. Scatter. What will they do now that their beloved leader is dead?
The sun had shifted and it wasn't anymore the white light of early afternoon that has no trace of melancholy, the short shadows of noon skies, the blared-out blues, the flaccid clouds, the time of day that doesn't ask to be remembered. Now oranges were emerging and the thistles could be distinguished among the taller grasses as the shadows lengthened.~Amy Seek (From God And Jetfire)
You never know what you'll find at the Dollar Tree. I'm partial to the package of ten 32-count diamond "strike on box matches" for the candles I like to burn. I also like the "Little Trees" black ice-scented air fresheners that I hang in my car, package of three. Flashlights and gorilla glue, lip gloss and Sour Patch Kids. What really amazes me though, are the books I find--hardbacks with paper covers, published by Alfred A. Knopf with a retail value of $25 US and $34 Canada. And there they are in the very back of the Dollar Tree buried on an obscure shelf next to the children's coloring books and neon-pink jump ropes. I sometimes wonder what the author with a PhD in Social Anthropology from University College London, and an honorary fellow of the London School of Economics and St. Antony's College, Oxford, would think if she knew her words landed in the back of a Dollar Tree in South Carolina. Would she feel humiliated? Or would she be pleased that such a gorgeous treasure is available to a Dollar Tree customer such as myself?
The sea was like a shortcut to intimacy.~Katherine May (From Wintering--The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times)
She was elfin-like, the speaker I recently listened to at a church service. Small and delicate, she wore trendy leggings and a flowing cream-colored blouse. Her melodic Scottish accent filled the room. Smooth pink cheeks belied her ninety-two years. I could see, even from four rows back, that her eyes sparkled blue. She spoke about subjects we don't often talk about, how she struggled with deep loneliness for large swaths of her life. She stated that it has been her experience of the unconditional love of God that has helped the most to assuage loneliness in her life. She spoke of the mercy of Jesus, His grace and revelation of His love for her that continues to transform her life. I resonated with her testimony, grateful that she talked of the the hard things--the grief, the sadness, the regrets, the failures, the loneliness. And the presence and love of Jesus that is real when the hard things emerge. Her words felt like beautiful stones placed on the corners of my heart that no wind could uproot.
In my book, On A Clear Blue Day, I share an excerpt that speaks to some of the hard things--perhaps acting as strengthening stones of the grace and peace of Jesus.
How close people could be to us when they had gone as far away as possible, to the edges of the map. How unforgettable.~Paula McLain (From Circling The Sun)
The little boots on the porch took me back--back to southern California when my children were small and we lived on a green rectangle of space nestled on the outskirts of San Diego.
While walking in my neighborhood, I'd spied the boots--could see orange and blue butterflies between the splatters of mud. I stopped and remembered those days on the west coast. My two girls and I would take a blanket to our backyard and spread it with our lunch and a few books to read. A bougainvillea vine grew against a wall, the purple-pink blooms vivid in the sun. A rabbit hutch sat in the corner with our pet bunny. When I saw those boots, I could still feel my children's closeness, hear their laughter.
It can be the tiniest slivers of memory that bring people near. My husband's robe hanging on the back of the bathroom door, thinking of him bundled in it after a shower, his hair wet, the scent of shampoo still lingering in the air. A book facedown on the chair, the title on the spine reminding me of the beauty of story. Birdsong through the window, a nearness too.