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.
This is the most difficult thing I've ever done--to be in a country where I have so few words. Yet I choose to be here, reminding myself it is important to be grateful for the experience. This is how I grow. This is how I increase love and empathy for others. For myself. This is how I trust God. 'What is it like?' I ask myself.~Journal entry for September 7, 2023
Being underwater. The experience in Italy is like being underwater without an oxygen tank. I have only so much air in my lungs, only so much language. Even experiencing the beauty of Italy, like an underwater world--brilliantly colored fish and vivid orange coral--I can't stay long. I must surface for air, gulp down more oxygen. Sometimes if feels much easier to stay on the ocean surface than to take another deep dive.
Giovanni and I vacationed a few days with his sister and her friend on the Lago di Garda. His sister's generosity allowed us to stay in an apartment with breathtaking mountain vistas. Yet when you are spending a few days with others, you need words for soap and sheets, language for how to open the sliding glass door, and to tell others that you wrote another book and how to respond when they ask what it's about. And what's the word for "towel?" I knew it, but can't remember. "Breathe," I remind myself. My lungs are bursting. My oxygen is language and I have so very little. Dive again. Do it again.
Before enlightenment chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.~Zen Proverb
Today Giovanni and I celebrate nineteen years of marriage. Our relationship carries the amalgam of vibrant romance, brazen conflict and two wildly different cultures. And we remain together despite this conglomeration of fragrance and thorns.
We are in Giovanni's country. Last week we rode the motorcycle across the Italian countryside. Fields of tomatoes flashed past us--red orbs gleaming amidst verdant meadows. Tractors amended the earth. Lavender mountains sat propped against the horizon, sun sliding onto their glorious faces. Castle turrets soared into cerulean skies. Still our love story unfurls across the years.
Yet marriage is deeply anointed by the oil of incremental daily steps.
I have always loved a window, especially an open one.~Wendell Berry
I love the windows in this Italian house--tall and elegant in their simplicity. This early morning I can see the sky. A smooth blue palette shimmering through an opening in the lace curtain. A breeze filters in and grazes my cheek, though it will be hot this afternoon. For now, I drink in the view and remember there is a family who lives across the courtyard. I can hear a child singing from their bright orange house. A sound of life, of joy.
Looking through this window provides me a burst of hope. All that light spilling in anchors me for the day. I open my Bible and read: For God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (II Tim. 1:7, NLT}.
Writing is a way to salvage life, to give it form and meaning. It exposes what we have hidden, unearths what we have neglected, misremembered, denied. It is a method of capturing, of pinning down, but it is also a form of truth, of liberation.~Jhumpa Lahiri (From Ties)
When I come to Italy, I pull back the curtain once again and examine my relationship with this culture. I long to find a sense of myself here, piece myself together in way that doesn't feel so awkward. But maybe I've just become so good at playacting in my own culture that all is well with me that I'm disabled in another culture. I can't do that here in this lovely country.
We're here living in a stone house with rose-colored walls. Purple oleanders bloom in pots outside our door. Dappled light saturates the path where my husband and I ride our bikes to buy bread and vegetables. We travel to free concerts held in the town square, listening to classical music under a blue moon. Once in a blue moon, I think. Literally. That moon that caused the tides to swell and flood the streets while we've been away from Charleston.
That is how you know you're existing in the world, the uncertainty. Of course, that is why we sometimes want to return to the past, because we know it, or think we do. It is a song we've heard.~Matt Haig (From How To Stop Time)
The feeling caught me off guard. I drove downtown Charleston where I used to work. I recognized the ornate iron gates I passed when I walked to the Medical University for meetings, the Starbucks where I'd take a break and get a coffee. Even the parking garage seemed like an old friend. I parked for years there, often on the top floor so I could watch the sunrise before heading into work. I felt threads of sadness. All that life finished. And completed well. A good chapter in my life. Yet my workplace is not even located downtown now. Colleagues gone on to other endeavors. Some have died. While I wouldn't go back, can't go back, the past pulls on me, tugs at me to think of the familiar routine, romanticize what was. Like flipping through old LPs at a record store, yearning to find music that I know. Songs I've heard.