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.
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.
One brief hour on one afternoon and the future suddenly shone ahead. I could almost see it.~From Gone by Min Kym
Rain spills down the window pane, sounding comfort on a winter afternoon, the pale light offering subtle beauty like a Camille Corot landscape. I sip a glass of red wine and nibble dark chocolate. Savor a lit candle. I've been reading since nine this morning. It's now five in the afternoon. An introvert's best day.
I think about the New Year. I feel like a child, hoping, hoping, hoping for good things. I say to myself, "This last year wasn't the most hospitable. So many losses and sadness. It's a good thing all that melancholy wasn't on my radar when I peered out over the horizon this time last year. Not knowing can be a good thing."
We slipped into the booth, our faces flushed with laughter after visiting the "Ugly Christmas Sweater" store. A Christmas tree twinkled in the corner of The Darling Oyster, a quaint downtown restaurant where my good friend and I unpacked our library of memories in the candlelit ambiance. He and I worked together over ten years ago doing HIV prevention work. He moved to DC and opened a private counseling practice. I cannot begin to imagine the number of people he has touched with his intense compassion and poignant acceptance of persons who suffer. My friend showed me a photo of he and several other members of his church gathered around a dying congregant. "The pastor asked me to lead in worship. I sang 'Alleluia' over him; we laid hands on him and prayed." As I gazed at the photo, I realized everyone was smiling, including the man in hospice, his hand raised in victory. Then my friend, fixed his eyes on mine and listened to my life, never judging, never shaming. Listening. Hearing. Nodding. The Darling Oyster like a sanctuary.
Being with my friend caused me to realize anew how precious life is. How ephemeral. In that spirit, I want to offer sincere thanks to you, my dear readers, for allowing me into your lives over these weeks and years through the blog posts. With so many words flying over the internet each day, you choose to read mine. There is really not a greater honor you could pay a writer. Like a chef who prepares a sumptuous meal, she wants people to savor and enjoy her creations. Thank you for sitting at my table. Your fellowship is welcomed, and I am humbled.
I realize many of you are at different places in your lives, so I send this Christmas prayer, inspired by Psalms 8,16, 18, 37 and 62 from The Passion Translation...
One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along, that while we need to be reassured of God's arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait we have to have trust, to have faith, but it is God's grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true at once. The mind can't grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.~Michelle Blake
Last year as I sat on the cusp of 2019, I wrote that it seemed as if I'd arrived in new territory, a geography with landscapes to explore. Pathways to follow. Now as the year winds to a close, I sit in contemplation, waiting for Christmas, reviewing the past year, looking toward the one yet to unfold. I suppose what has surprised me, but shouldn't, is the coexistence of shadow and light in the land I've traversed. Others journeying with me have inspired endurance in the long stretches of desert. I think of my two sisters, one experiencing the sudden death of her husband, the other's husband suffering loss of health. With tear-stained faces, they have looked to the future, believing that God is the restorer of souls. Their faith has been that light. My two daughters lost their father. Gone in an instant. Their tear-streaked faces look forward as well. They mourn and have hope simultaneously. Their strength undergirds my own faith. More light in the shadows. Others I've met on the trail, saw their dreams unravel and decided to believe that God had not abandoned them. Artist friends continued to create, even with no tangible rewards, content to be remain hidden. Alone and together. Joy and sadness. Hard and soft. Laughter and tears. Opposites co-mingling. Inevitable paradox, this side of eternity.