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.
"Courage, dear heart," said Aslan.~C.S. Lewis (From The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)
I didn't want to leave. Couldn't tear myself away. For the millionth time I walked to the tidal creek in an attempt to sort through my thoughts and feelings. And for the millionth and one time that terrain welcomed me into its embrace, like a friend who listens and says just the right thing. So many times that landscape had heard my longings and witnessed my melancholy. My joy.
Today was no different. The walk down the road allowed me to observe banks of pink azaleas and a cerulean sky. When I reached the tidal shore, the breeze grazed the gray-green waters, creating such enticing currents, that I yearned for a boat that would take me where they led. I listened to classical music on my headphones, the sound elegant, almost royal. Here, I could open my palms and receive the majesty of the day.
I turned and found a bench tucked away, facing the landscape. It had the last of the sun and an unusual aspect, one private but yet with an open, panoramic view of the country. A good place from which to look out, I thought; a good pace to hide; a good place to cry. I sat down and hoped no one would remove this bench; that it would remain there till the end of time.~Hisham Matar (From A Month In Siena)
I kept going back to the dream. A man I did not recognize came to me and said, "The baby is yours." He held in his arms a little girl, maybe about three months old, dressed in green and pink. Barefoot, her infant feet plump and soft. Blue eyes gazed at me, serene. The man gently placed her in my arms, and without any fretting, the baby relaxed on my shoulder and promptly fell asleep. I ran my hand over her vulnerable head. At her temple, I could see faint blue veins under the surface of her perfect skin. I bent to kiss her forehead, inhaling her fragrance. Her newness. Her warmth.
When I awakened, I felt as if the child was still in my arms. What could I make of this, other than the sheer pleasure it brought to me? I remembered my own children, when they'd sleep on my shoulder. When I could have gone on rocking them for days, just to listen to the surrender of their gentle breathing. I could remember thinking how nice it was to take a break and simply hold them. Let the list of to dos fall away. Allow the stillness. And then, after a while, they'd raise their heads, rub their eyes and scurry down from my lap. I could remember those brief moments of relaxation and how the peacefulness made a difference in the day. Calmed me.
His fingernails appeared ravaged, bitten down to the quick, like he'd seen a decade of panic. I stood at the counter while the man pecked on his keyboard, typing up the service bill for my car. I was only about a foot from those terrible-looking nails, and there was part of me that wanted to reach out and grasp his hand and ask him what was so bad in his life. "What happened, sir?" Yet we don't do those kinds of things. Maybe we should. And, I'm ashamed to admit, my compassion for him began to evaporate when he tried to sell me services my car did not need. Maybe therein contains the anxiety. All that hard sell. He was a nice man. Why should he have to do that for his job? Couldn't he just be real and say, "I think an oil change is all you need." And so it goes...life churning and moving, with all its dailiness and ever-changing cultural fears that surface for everyone.
My boss sat in our weekly meeting and looked around the table--the nurse practitioners, the counselors, the peer support specialists, the social workers. "You guys look tapped out. Let's end the meeting. Go do some self-care." Surely we'd all had a rough week at the clinic, more and more patients homeless, overdosing, almost dying. Helping people reduce harm and getting support had taken its toll, like the man and his chewed-up nails. We were weary, like a spigot with a scant stream, the water supply almost dry.
The most casual turn, an innocent encounter--with a person, a book, a painting, a piece of unexpected news--or a mere thought passing through one's head can leave one ever so slightly altered. And somehow we know, as the minutes pass, that we are being quietly made and that there is nothing we can do to stop it, because when it comes to the present, we are susceptible and enthralled. By comparison the past is more easily locatable, or at least we have concocted the illusion that it is, and the future, no matter how uncertain, always seems distant. It is the guest who is forever not quite yet here.~Hisham Matar (From A Month In Siena)
I felt immediately jealous as I read the description of the book on the inside flap of the cover. Throughout his life, the author was fascinated with artworks of the Sienese School of painting. He traveled to Italy to spend a month looking at the paintings he so cherished. Days and days to spend slowly gazing at the art, at his pace, without hurrying through. I thought, "Oh, to be able to do that."
Clue: the next right thing is tiny, nonthreatening, and right in front of you. Do that thing.~From It's Never Too Late To Begin Again by Julia Cameron
I'll never forgot who taught me the expression, "The Next Right Thing." The woman sat in my office, a colleague, and said, "I'm not sure what to do about taking the job in California. It's a great opportunity, and I'm scared to leave Charleston. My family is here, my recovery community is here. Overall, I like my job." She paused, her forehead wrinkling, lips pressed together. She placed her hands on the chair cushion, elbows locked, and leaned forward. She smiled. "Guess I'll just do the next right thing."
The slogan made sense, and I borrowed it from that lovely woman who eventually made it to California by following the stepping stones of "the next right thing."
I used the phrase this weekend when I awakened feeling pressured to get things done. Be productive. "It won't be so overwhelming if you just take the next step, Priscilla. The next right thing. What's next?"