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 is remarkable how the ordinary and the existential are always stuck together, like the pages in a book so timeworn that the print has transferred from one to the other.~Kathryn Schulz (From Lost & Found)
I have a great love for and dependence on the concept of finding increments in one's life. I was introduced to the idea by Julia Cameron, the beloved author of The Artist's Way. I consider her a virtual mentor. I've mentioned her countless times over the years of writing these blog posts. She often reminds me that it is the small steps that add up, the increments over time that create something new--a book, a home, a relationship, a play, a painting, a song. A poem. There is always a choice when the day unfolds to choose an increment. There is nothing too ordinary. It is often in the mundane task that we find the most relief for our anxiety or melancholy. That scrubbing motion on the hood of a car or on a window pane that leaves us just a bit more hopeful when we view the shine, feel the slight pang from using our arm muscles. Often one microscopic action leads to another. "While I washed the car, I got an idea for my song. Think I'll go write down the lyrics, pluck it out on my guitar."
We can always ask, "What's next for today?"
For a long while, she sat in vibrant paralysis, her purse in her lap.~Yoon Choi (From Skinship)
"It's sort of an emotional inflammation," said Dr. Mark Batterson, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. Dr. Batterson was describing our society now. Having walked two years on the road of the COVID crisis, the world now finds itself moving through a doorway to war. We are "inflamed" as a culture--that location where we can feel helpless, powerless, angry, sad, depressed. In pain. Not knowing what we can do to move forward. Paralyzed.
Over the last two weeks, I've had a sore, tender back. Inflammation. I've hated it, honestly. I've fought the pain by attempting to keep going at my usual pace, but it's only made the discomfort worse. I finally gave in and listened to my body. I slowed my pace. Rested. Allowed myself space. Breathed deeply. Prayed.
Perhaps that's what we do now to decrease the emotional swelling.
We are miners striking new ore at every depth.~Julia Cameron (From Transitions)
I participate in an ill-advised practice regarding my endeavor to write novels. I don't follow an outline. Most authors speaking of their creative process do not support this technique--or lack thereof. I, too, feel somewhat threatened by own audacity. I engage in a rather mysterious undertaking of asking questions to my characters. "What are you trying to teach me?" I ask. This week a character spoke. She's realigning her life, attempting to get in touch with desires that she's repressed for years. She takes a walk along the coastline where she lives and looks up at the night sky, the stars flung out like a tapestry. She shouts amidst the clamor and murmuring of ocean waves, "Do you stars surrender to your brilliance?"
I became intrigued by her question--so much so that I explored her cry to the starlit darkness in a poem.
It may be that we have lost our ability to hold a blazing coal, to move unfettered through time, to walk on water, because we have been taught such things have to be learned; we should deserve them; we must be qualified. We are suspicious of grace. We are afraid of the very lavishness of the gift.~Madeleine L'Engle (From Walking on Water--Reflections in Faith and Art)
This week I heard a story about a surgeon who transplanted a heart to a woman. The new heart did not immediately begin to beat. The physician then proceeded to do something unorthodox in the operating suite. He kneeled down and whispered to the woman, "I've removed your unhealthy heart and replaced it with a brand new one. It's all in place. Now you tell your heart to beat again." Almost at once, the woman's heart began to pulse with life.
Like physical hearts, sometimes our spiritual hearts can become hardened or wounded or broken. I believe that Jesus bends down and whispers in our ears, "Tell your heart to beat again. I've provided the mercy for that to happen. Don't be suspicious of the lavishness of my grace. Willingly receive my goodness, my Kingdom pulse."
Grace was the paintbrush. It carried me through.~Bill Fricke
This morning I'm trying to "tease out" the meaning of stillness. What does that word, that concept actually mean? The definition seems to imply rest, a quiet state, calmness, my hands free, my heartbeat steady, my mind tranquil. The peace of Jesus. And then what does it mean to reflect and embrace the peace of Jesus?
I believe receiving is involved. But then I often confuse the art of receiving with self-effort. Performance. Surely there's a formula I can follow, a five-step action plan. Directives. Machinations.
What if entering the door of the Lord's peace is walking in and receiving His hospitable ministrations? Simply to receive from Him with no worry of pay back or over-staying my welcome. To sit at His kitchen table and drink a strong cup of coffee with half and half. To hear Him say, "I freely give you my peace. It's not like the culture's peace that depends on happy circumstances. My peace transcends sorrow, self-doubt, shame, loneliness and lost dreams. There is no DIY plan with me. It's not about the performance. It's about the receiving." (See John 14: 26-27)