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.
In the place where they were told, "You are nobody," this will be the very place where they will be renamed "Children of the living God."~Romans 9:26 (The Passion Translation)
A letter waited for me in the post office box yesterday. A high school friend wrote that she'd found an old photo of me and my mother she'd snapped when I was eighteen. The photo in the envelope showed me with long hair wearing a pair of maroon bellbottoms, platform shoes peeking from under the flared hems. My mother, younger than I am now, smiled widely, her hair a brown bouffant helmet styled to last for a week--her arm around my slender waist. As I looked at the faded photo I wondered, "What if I'd believed I was not a 'nobody' then?" "What if I'd believed even though I was invisible to the 'popular crowd,' I was not insignificant?"
I think about those questions now. I wonder where that location was where I was renamed. I believe that locale was my mind. My belief system. As I gazed at that little square of memory, I realized that at eighteen, I believed I was "nobody." I didn't see myself accurately. Plenty of others did. My high school friend often said, "You are so pretty, Prissy." My mother did. Father too. My parents often said they were proud of me. An English teacher pulled me aside one day before high school graduation and said, "You have a real talent for writing. I hope you'll keep at it." I didn't believe any of them.
"Artist Makoto Fujimura is a student of kintsugi--'golden repair'--the Japenese art of mending broken ceramics with laquer mixed with precious metals, restoring a bowl or cup to wholeness and function while highlighting, rather than masking, the fractures. Objects repaired by kintsugi masters are often stunningly beautiful, veined with gold, silver, or platinum that trace a history of traumatic destruction and sublime redemption."~Julie Polter (From the article God Is In The Making, Sojourners, February, 2021)
I found my way back to the page earlier than anticipated. Perhaps because my sabbatical from writing each week became more than I could bear. I ran back to the page almost like I would run toward the daylight. Writing is warmth for me, a constant and loyal companion.
When I read of Makoto Fujimura's art of "golden repair," I matched the concept with my own experience with the art of writing. When I've encountered life-fracturing events, writing has acted like the laquer mixed with gold, silver or platinum to mend the broken places. The crack has not been cosmetically removed, but rather curated into something beautiful. Something better. In a society where we often discard cracked things or attempt to cover up the fractured place, this type of restoration might even be considered too good to be true, likened to the grace of God.
Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?~Matt Haig (From How To Stop Time)
I realized in that moment that others view me as old. And it's not only the silver hair. I sat in the waiting room prepared to see the optician for my annual eye exam. Due to COVID, I was the only patient. The doctor opened the door to the waiting room and when he saw me reading, asked, "Priscilla, have you returned to school? I notice you reading a book." Somewhat confused, I looked up, put my finger in the book to save my place and replied, "No, it's a library book. I always bring a book with me when I think I might have to wait." He said, "Oh, people don't usually read 'real' books anymore unless it's a text book. The screens--they're actually hard on the eyes--interfere with circadian rhythms and all that. I'm trying to go the old-fashinoned way, you know, take my kids to the library." I nodded, realizing how holding the book aged me. Placed me in the category of "vintage." "Yes," I said. "Libraries are one of the most civilized and comforting places I know." And with that, he ushered me into the low light of the exam room and began to peer into my eyes.
"A man cannot step into the same river twice. For he is not the same man, and it is not the same river."~Heraclitus
I suppose we all feel as if we've entered a very different river in 2020, what with COVID and all the unanticipated changes and losses that we've encountered. I have a penchant for reflection at year's end--especially this one with all its need to summon resilience. I am asking, "What have I learned?" "What lessons will I attempt to hold onto for 2021?"
Here are a few concepts I want to keep:
"Respair": A 16th century term meaning fresh hope, and a recovery from despair.
We made a trek to see the pods--those square and rectangular boxes that one can rent to store earthly goods. My husband and I wanted to see if the largest pod would be adequate to hold our things--that the truck the company used to deliver the boxes would fit on our driveway. The warehouse seemed a bit surreal. Miles and stacks of pods. Lines of trucks to carry the pods. No one around. A minuscule office sat at the corner of the warehouse, but we couldn't rouse anyone to help answer our questions. We walked over to one of the trucks and made our best guess that our driveway would fit its wheels, that the size pod we chose would hold our things. Just as we were about to leave, a man appeared behind one of the trucks. "Could we ask you a question about the pods?" "Sure," he said. We posed questions about the driveway requirements, but he responded, "I"m a driver. I transport pods from one location to another, so I don't know a lot about the driveway stuff. But, hey, I'm going to the office to get my orders. Maybe that guy could help you."
That's when we met Billy. Billy Billy as it turns out. "Yeah, my name's Billy, and believe it or not, my last name's Williams. People call me 'Billy Billy,'" he laughed. There was something about him. Merry blue eyes behind glasses. A ponytail and long sideburns. Rosy cheeks. A listener. Billy answered our questions and put our minds at ease about our pod confusion. He handed us his business card. "You can see it's in the shape of a pod," he smiled.