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.
Isn't it funny how you run across a message just when you need it? This week I was rummaging through my poetry file and found a poem I'd written in longhand after hearing it on NPR's, The Writer's Almanac. The poem is entitled, Lost, by David Wagoner. In part it goes like this...
The trees ahead and bushes beside you are not lost.
Wherever you are is called Here.
And you must trust it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers.
Then a kind friend (you know the type of friend who gently reminds you of what you already know?) sent an email reminding me of psychologist, Marsha Linehan's concept of radical acceptance. The construct includes these points:
Were I to proceed to tell you how much I enjoy...architecture, sculpture, painting, music I should want words.~Thomas Jefferson
Lately, I'm especially grateful for You Tube. I can find most anything I want there. I've been gravitating toward downloads of "best auditions" of people trying out for America's Got Talent or Britain's Got Talent or The Voice or X-Factor. What most fascinates me is the the look on peoples' faces when a little child begins belting out opera, or a disheveled man sits down at the piano and plays so beautifully you want to weep, or when a duo performs a magic act that leaves you gasping and asking, "How in the heck did they do that?" Or when dancers move with such grace and precision, you don't want the performance to end. The judges and audience just can't quite take it in, this drive of human beings to sing, to dance, to write songs and play instruments, to create...it's in our DNA, and I believe the great Creator placed it there in all of us, because he so loves to create and endowed us with the innate desire to make art. There's a slight catch, though. Creating takes patience. To create requires process.
When I scroll through the multitude of You Tube downloads and watch ten auditions in a row, thirsting for more, I forget something. I watched the two-minute audition. I got the finished product. I didn't see the hours and hours of that singer practicing in front of the mirror perfecting hand motions and body movement; I couldn't count the number of rejections the magicians received trying to get their act on the road. I probably have no earthly idea how long it to took the dancers to choreograph their piece--how many times they fell down and got back up. I can't measure the courage it took each person to try out. I probably can't fathom the number of times the artists must have felt like quitting.
Another dream. I saw the number thirty. I've always been fascinated with dreams--believe that they can be messages from God. My husband thinks I'm slightly cracked, yet I am not put off by his doubts, and can understand his dubiousness, understand that my take is a bit weird--perhaps more than a bit. Dreams are mysteries. And I attempt to unravel them, first asking myself, "What might God be saying, what might He be hiding for me?"
My first avenue for decoding the number thirty included reading books of the Bible that have a thirtieth chapter. There really aren't many. I read things I didn't understand in Ezekiel and comforting words in Psalm 30, encouraging words in Deuteronomy, puzzling concepts in Leviticus. I recalled Rachel's and Jacob's love story in Genesis, the details God spoke to Moses in Exodus. Then in I Samuel I found the phrase I sense God hid for me: David strengthened himself with trust in his God (30:6, The Message).
The notion of strength intrigued me, because I am physically weak now, managing side effects of medication intended to make me well--eventually. How did David strengthen himself with trust in God? How do I accomphish this? A thought that came to me was remembering parenting my own children. When my girls were small, I'd put out my hand when we went about our errands, or when we were more adventurous and headed to amusement parks or to the zoo. They were rarely hesitant to grab hold of my hand. They trusted me to lead them, even when they weren't sure where we were headed. And I will never forget the sensation of their hands in mine. I could feel the dimpled flesh, the slightness. I relished that soft contact, glad to be their mother, happy that we could go places together. Delighted with their trust in me.
I thought of how God must enjoy it when I place my hand in His. Even when I don't know where the pathway leads, His firm grip is succor and strength, despite the uncertainty.
Ease feels foreign--and suspicious.~Julia Cameron
In the dream I found myself driving hundreds of miles with no breaks. I drove so fast, I couldn't discern the territory I passed. I became exhausted and couldn't keep my foot on the accelerator. I nodded off, my chin slumping to my chest. Then I jerked awake, terrified to discover that I wasn't in my lane. I slapped my cheek and said, "You've got to keep driving. Go on." There was no thought of pulling over and resting. Onward I drove, confused and growing more desperate with each mile. Where was I headed? Finally, I followed a road that led to an expansive grove of trees and a sign that plainly announced my destination: "ROAD ENDS."
I awakened, only to drift back to sleep and dreamed again. This time I found myself in the crowded hallway of a hotel. People pushed and shoved each other attempting to get to their rooms. I didn't know where I was going. I simply allowed myself to be jostled along by the mass of people. Suddenly a tall man who stood well above the other people tapped me on the shoulder. He handed me a room key and said, "There is a room waiting for you on the fifth floor. Go there now. The room is yours for as long as you need it." I took the key and rode an elevator to floor five. When I unlocked the door to the room, I noted this was no ordinary lodging. As I walked through the suite, I discovered a sitting area with a comfortable chair and ottoman where I could relax and think. A study contained a desk that overlooked a balcony. A computer was there for my use. And a leather bound journal sat on the desk, filled with fresh, unlined pages for me to fill. I opened the sliding glass door and stepped onto a balcony enclosed with an ornate, wrought iron enclosure. One chair and a side table awaited my presence. I looked out over the wide expanse of ocean and breathed in the aromatic salty essence of the sea.
I walked into a dark canyon a few days ago--feeling sorry for myself and feeling angry, the side effects from current medical treatments making inroads into my life that I didn't appreciate. I told a colleague, "For me now, it's sort of like being in a drought-infested geography. I don't have a lot of energy, so I must conserve, conserve, conserve. Can't water my yard, or I won't have enough water to drink." I knew I had to walk myself out of the dusky jaws of that canyon; its walls did not create a healthy environment. To begin my departure, I used a coping skill I define as "Looking Back." What has helped me in the past to better transcend feelings of anger and self-pity?
This question can sometimes send me back to my childhood-- asking what things brought me hope or pleasure. I thought back to fourth grade, my nine-year-old self. Every day I rode my royal purple, Schwinn Stingray bicycle to school, banana seat and streamers sprouting from the handle bars. And sometimes on my ride home, I'd stop at a large field, enclosed with wire fencing. Horses pastured there, and I liked to look at them. I wished that I could pet them, but they never ventured near me. Until one day. I often saved a snack from my lunch to eat on the way home. I stood near the fence, and was about to take a bite from my apple when a brown horse trotted up to me and placed his head over the fence, his face very close to my head.