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.
The tiny heartbreaking commonplace, yes indeed.~Patti Callahan from Becoming Mrs. Lewis, The Improbable Love Story of Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis
Sometimes I feel the weight of my history. Time stacked up, rising upward. Day by day. Hour after hour. Time moving, coursing so rapidly that even if I wanted to slow it, I couldn't. It is more beneficial to focus on the present rather than placing my hand on my brow, shielding my eyes and looking up at that accumulated mound of time. When Joy Davidman died, her husband, C.S. Lewis, wrote in A Grief Observed, "I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace." Yes, these are the things I want as well. So let me focus on them while they still exist.
I open the cupboard to fetch a cup for my coffee. On the top shelf sits a jar of instant coffee that Giovanni and I resort to during the hurricanes here in South Carolina. When we have no power and can't make a hot cup of Hazelnut or French Vanilla. Giovanni heats the water on the side burner of the gas grill, and we pour boiling water over the brown crystals. We welcome the surge of caffiene, the taste bitter, even with massive amounts of sugar and cream kept cold in a cooler with the last of the ice. Daily, I see that jar with the yellow label that states, "Every Morning Essentials." I have a secret wish that we never have need of its contents again. But its presence is a reminder, too, that we have survived multiple storms over the years in this extravagant and peculiar coastal territory, sitting in the dark, the candles burning, drinking that hot, acrid brew. Safe together.
Remember the sky that you were born under, know each of the star's stories. Remember the moon, know who she is. Remember the sun's birth at dawn, that is the strongest point of time. Remember sundown and the giving away to night. Remember your birth, how your mother struggled to give form and breath. You are evidence of her life, and her mother's and hers.~ From Remember by Joy Harjo
I suppose we might have been relegated to the category of the "have-nots" by just looking at us. We rented a speck of a house in the land of movie stars and swaying palms amidst the hills of southern California. We always just made it to the end of the month with a few dollars left in our checking account, buying our shoes from Pay-Less and our clothes from Goodwill. My girls were little blonde innocents who liked to play in the minuscule backyard fitted out with a skimpy swing set.
Beauty abounded, though, as we had a wall of vibrant bougainvillia and birds of paradise grew tall with all their orange wildness in one corner of the yard. We could sit on a blanket under the shade of an avocado tree. Mushrooms popped up regularly from the black soil around the edges of the fence. I invented stories about The Mushroom People who lived under the brown caps of our mushrooms. The Mushroom clan was strong and brave, resilient in their adventures to avoid the big people who couldn't see them and inadvertnently could destroy their mushroom village in one giant step.
Once upon a time, you had it all beautifully sorted out. Then you didn't.~Sarah Bessey (From Out of Sorts)
The week felt long, even though it was four days of work instead of five. I'd meant to be extra productive on the MLK holiday--feedback to the artist regarding the website, a vigorous walk, recording quotes I'd discovered from the books I've read, emails to loved ones, researching potential submissions...I did none of it. I had such good intentions, and I'd started out well. I'd gone to Lab Corps to have my blood drawn for a physical later in the week. I'd fasted prior to the labwork, my growling stomach acting as some sort of gold medal that I was doing all the right things that morning. Yet when I got home, I felt exhausted, even after eating my healthy flaxseed muffin that I make almost every day. It was as if that blood draw had sucked out more than blood, draining my energy and psychological resilience as well. "Okay," I said to myself, "Let me sit in this sunny corner of my house and read--just two articles from the Paris Review (I'd bought the subscription for a personal Christmas present). Two articles, then two more, and then I picked up a new library book. I'd meant to get up from that chair and begin my list, the "tik-tok" of my clock like a calming presence there in the sunlit corner. I didn't want to get up. So I stayed until the sun set, until it was time for bed. Then I moved three feet and crawled under the covers and slept, warding off feelings of guilt that I'd gotten nothing done.
I often don't know where I'm going. I have almost no sense of direction. I have never understood concepts like "as the crow flies." If I'm not sure what direction to take, I tend to go the opposite way, because typically my intuition is incorrect. Enter Google maps. Saving grace. A confident voice directs me step by step. But what if Google maps somehow goes haywire? Shuts down--providing instructions that make no sense--even for a person like me who is practically clueless when it comes to maps. Well, you ask for help with someone who has a working GPS or someone who can read maps. You get another app for your phone. You take a next step.
Creative endeavors, I find, can be similar to having a poor sense of direction. I get lost easily there too. Yesterday I met with the artist who helps me with book covers and websites. God, is he kind. Women would pay hundreds of dollars to have their hair fall to their shoulders in rippling curls like his. His eyes are filled with light. He's like the woman's voice on my new Waze app who tells me which turn to take. At lunch yesterday, Alex unveiled the new book cover design. I could have wept, it was so beautiful. At that moment, I didn't care if anyone ever read the book. I felt victory seeing all that artistry come together. Maybe an emotion akin to holding a newborn--a feeling of awe that something had actually been created. The book wasn't just something I trusted would materialize at some point. I felt relief. I'd reached a destination--not fully understanding or remembering all the turns I'd taken through territory that was new. I'd made it to the next stop on the road.
"It's a funny thing," said Rabbit, "how everything looks the same in a mist. Lucky we know the Forest so well, or we might get lost."
"Pooh!" Piglet whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you."~A.A. Milne
When I entered the art exhibit to view Van Gogh and His Inspirations, my shoulders and torso loosened slightly. Tension ebbed. It was as if a kindred spirit squeezed my hand.
I really didn't know much about Van Gogh, other than stories of his unstable mental health when he cut off his ear. I knew of his sunflowers and starry night.
I didn't know that he sold only one painting during his career, seven months before his death at age 37. He was also a voracious reader. He wrote profusely as well, especially letters. Copies of some of his letters were on display. He was close to his brother, Theo, who supported his artistic endeavors. When I looked at one of the letters and observed the fine script, Mon Cher Theo, tears sprang to my eyes realizing how much artists need people who believe in them. Such intimacy felt with this deceased painter there in the museum with strangers milling about.