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.
Despite everything, I believed somehow there was time.~Lily King (From Euphoria)
He died suddenly while mowing his lawn. Somehow I wasn't surprised that he passed away while conducting a task. He prioritized work, performance and productivity. He found it hard to let go, to stop checking off items on the list, to stop worrying about what he would do if everything was lost in a hurricane or if his money ran out or if he could no longer accomplish the maintenance on his home. Or if he ended up alone. I asked him once what he most enjoyed. "Music," he said. "I used to go to concerts all the time." "What if you went soon?" I said. "Nah, I've got too much to do. Besides who would I go with?" "But what if you went anyway?" I challenged. He just smiled and shook his head.
The next time I saw him he said, "Guess what?" "Tell me," I said. "I went to a concert. By myself. It was outdoors, so I took a blanket and a picnic. Priscilla, I sat there and let the music absorb me. It was dusk, the sky beginning to fill with stars, the sky that kind of blue that makes you want to cry. All the songs of my youth. Memories galore. And it was really okay that I was alone. I didn't feel lonely, surrounded by all the other people and the music."
"Sounds like you grabbed a moment. Lived your life," I said.
"Yes. For once."
I have found you in the story again. Is there another word for "divine"? I need a song that will keep sky open in my mind.
If I think behind me I might break. If I think forward I lose now.
Forever will be a day like this. Strung perfectly on the necklace of days.
Slightly overcast. Yellow leaves.
Your jacket hanging in the hallway.
Next to mine. ~Joy Harjo (From Fall Song)
It's been awhile. Since I saw my husband. I would know him anywhere. Know his eyes, green smiling crescents, above the blue mask he wore after a long flight over the ocean. Love and marriage is powered by mystery. Giovanni and I felt that indefinable energy as we fell back into our rhythm with each other. Sometimes, for me, it is tempting to look too far ahead. How will we figure out this next season of our lives? Retirement is new, and there are many hoops to jump through regarding finances and health and assembling two cultures. Then I think of all the hurdles we've already jumped through. The immigration loop was enough to toughen up the strongest of individuals. Thinking back or looking too far ahead is anxiety provoking. Surely now will be lost if I reside in those thinking patterns. I must imagine stringing a necklace of days with colorful beads that inhabit the present.
To stack the woodblocks for The Scarlet Letter in the corner cupboard with her sketch pads, pencils, and watercolors gave her an intense pleasurable feeling of being ready to live.~Wallace Stegner (From Angle of Repose)
This week I watched a movie, Where'd You Go Bernadette?, adapted from the novel by Maria Semple. The protagonist had experienced the knocks and bruises of life, and in the midst of her pain stopped creating. When she ceased creating, she simultaneously cut ties with herself, intensifying the pain. Have you ever experienced this? Have you ever asked yourself, "Where did I go?"
It is easy to lose ourselves in this culture. We can get submerged in the voices that define creativity and art. "Making art takes too much energy. One must have huge swaths of time to create." "You must be 'good enough' to sell what you make." "You must be like J-Lo (or insert anyone famous here) if you're going to sing, paint, write or act." "You've got to have a lot of money to really be creative." "You must have a huge following on Instagram and TikTok." "You would probably need to quit your full-time job to really have the time to create anything."
The list goes on and on and on. We become submerged in the cultural voices and sink. What if it's really not that way at all?
I was walking in a dark valley and above me the tops of the hills had caught the morning light.
I heard the light singing as it went among the grassblades and the leaves.
I waded upward through the shadow until my head emerged, my shoulders were mantled with the light,
And my whole body came up out of the darkness, and stood on the shore of the day.~Wendell Berry (From the poem Returning in Wendell Berry New collected Poems)
One of my favorite things is to imagine myself ascending a staircase. When I reach the top, I find a balcony with a chair where I can sit and think or pray. Be still. The sky is taut and blue overhead. Perhaps a glittering, light-filled sea threads the horizon. I can stay for a while.
I have stairs in my house, and my writing office is situated in a little corner of the room. I can see the sky from my window. I like to imagine that I can see the ocean. While in my safe alcove, I read and pray. Meditate. In Psalm 34:14 I read Make peace your motto. Practice being at peace with everyone. Then the footnote in The Passion Translation.
Selah--Pronounced SEE-lah, this is a Hebrew name that means to praise or to pause and reflect upon what has been said.
I became intrigued by the title first. Angle of Repose, by Wallace Stegner. I didn't realize the concept is a geological term for the slope at which rocks cease to roll. The definition further fascinated me as I wondered how the author would use the phrase in the book. I've not gotten to that revelation yet. The book is long, 569 pages, and often authors don't provide the reader the meaning of the title until the very end. Keeps me reading. I couldn't quit asking myself, though, what the book title might hold for me.
The word "selah" came to mind--the word one frequently finds in the Psalms--an opportunity to reflect upon what one has read. To stop and soak in the text. Then a memory came to mind. My late father was an engineer for an airline company. He loved to fly on airplanes, and when we would fly together, he would always give me the window seat. I would lift the shade on the window, and my father would lean over my shoulder and point out different landmarks, his deep voice full of enthusiasm and wonder. To this day when I fly, I prefer the window seat, tucked up against the side of the airplane, my forehead pressed against the oval window, lost in thought and contemplation, people surrounding me, but no expectation to engage with them. There is something mesmerizing about viewing all that territory--rectangles of tan, green and pink parcels of land, geometric delight; neon-blue swimming pools dotting the landscape; the sun glinting on the silver wing of the airplane, then angling down to reveal the ocean, white foam silently encroaching upon a crystalline beach. I suppose in some way, that moment of seeing the big picture from above is like an angle of repose, a selah moment.