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.
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.
And how good it feels to leave all that complete and appreciated and go on to something so much easier, but no less demanding of spirit and mind and body.~From Eugene H. Peterson's journal in the book, A Burning In My Bones by Winn Collier
A year ago, I retired from the helping profession as a counselor. I spent twenty-six years in the field. The work was a good fit for me. I had the privilege to engage with real and authentic folk, both patients and colleagues. I loved the people and loved learning new ways and paths to collaborate with them. I loved the one-on-one interaction. Listening. I never really dreaded going to work, but I became weary after a little more than a quarter-century. There was a part of me that could not wait to shut that door behind me. To rest. To declare a sabbatical.
The year has provided me the margin I so craved. I'd planned to work another few years, but I couldn't stick it out. I didn't want to. The well was drained. So, I've rested and encountered sabbatical. Basked in silence and solitude--spiritual, mental and emotional sustenance I never could seem to get enough of while working.
It would have been nice to be back together, even briefly, in that pool of memory where no one else would ever swim.~Margot Livesey (From The House On Fortune Street)
My sister, Mary Anne, died in 2017. Her name means Star of the Sea; Grace; Beloved. These descriptions encapsulate the person she was. Due to COVID, I am not able to travel to gather with family and spread her ashes under a grove of Aspen trees. I mourn the fact that I cannot be there in person. I offer my tribute, and perhaps my words will blend with the whisper of the Aspens to create some form of presence.
Our family would all, even briefly, want to swim in that pool of memory with her. For one more day. What would she say to us?