My hope is to offer encouragement to writers as well as to those who simply love to read. You will find snippets of things I am working on and special announcements here.
Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?~Matt Haig (From How To Stop Time)
I realized in that moment that others view me as old. And it's not only the silver hair. I sat in the waiting room prepared to see the optician for my annual eye exam. Due to COVID, I was the only patient. The doctor opened the door to the waiting room and when he saw me reading, asked, "Priscilla, have you returned to school? I notice you reading a book." Somewhat confused, I looked up, put my finger in the book to save my place and replied, "No, it's a library book. I always bring a book with me when I think I might have to wait." He said, "Oh, people don't usually read 'real' books anymore unless it's a text book. The screens--they're actually hard on the eyes--interfere with circadian rhythms and all that. I'm trying to go the old-fashinoned way, you know, take my kids to the library." I nodded, realizing how holding the book aged me. Placed me in the category of "vintage." "Yes," I said. "Libraries are one of the most civilized and comforting places I know." And with that, he ushered me into the low light of the exam room and began to peer into my eyes.
"A man cannot step into the same river twice. For he is not the same man, and it is not the same river."~Heraclitus
I suppose we all feel as if we've entered a very different river in 2020, what with COVID and all the unanticipated changes and losses that we've encountered. I have a penchant for reflection at year's end--especially this one with all its need to summon resilience. I am asking, "What have I learned?" "What lessons will I attempt to hold onto for 2021?"
Here are a few concepts I want to keep:
"Respair": A 16th century term meaning fresh hope, and a recovery from despair.
We made a trek to see the pods--those square and rectangular boxes that one can rent to store earthly goods. My husband and I wanted to see if the largest pod would be adequate to hold our things--that the truck the company used to deliver the boxes would fit on our driveway. The warehouse seemed a bit surreal. Miles and stacks of pods. Lines of trucks to carry the pods. No one around. A minuscule office sat at the corner of the warehouse, but we couldn't rouse anyone to help answer our questions. We walked over to one of the trucks and made our best guess that our driveway would fit its wheels, that the size pod we chose would hold our things. Just as we were about to leave, a man appeared behind one of the trucks. "Could we ask you a question about the pods?" "Sure," he said. We posed questions about the driveway requirements, but he responded, "I"m a driver. I transport pods from one location to another, so I don't know a lot about the driveway stuff. But, hey, I'm going to the office to get my orders. Maybe that guy could help you."
That's when we met Billy. Billy Billy as it turns out. "Yeah, my name's Billy, and believe it or not, my last name's Williams. People call me 'Billy Billy,'" he laughed. There was something about him. Merry blue eyes behind glasses. A ponytail and long sideburns. Rosy cheeks. A listener. Billy answered our questions and put our minds at ease about our pod confusion. He handed us his business card. "You can see it's in the shape of a pod," he smiled.
"I think it is easy to imagine there are easier paths," she said, realizing something for the first time. "But maybe there are no easy paths. There are just paths."~ From The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
She had regrets. The narrator in the book, The Midnight Library. Her life seemed too small. In her opinion, she'd made too many wrong turns. She was talented, and had multiple opportunities to be more successful. She questioned her choices. She'd disappointed people with her decisions. Then she lands in a mystical place, The Midnight Library, where there are opportunities to see what may have happened in her life if she'd taken different pathways. In the end...well, I'll encourage you to read the book to see what happens.
There I sat in my reading chair after finishing the book contemplating my own life. The different choices I could have made along my path. My reading corner is magical to me--that contemplative area I've carved out for myself, even amidst the moving boxes, where I light a fragrant candle, listen to Pandora and read and think and pray and write. I thought about my life as I held my cup of hazelnut coffee against my chest. I could feel its warmth permeate my sweater, metaphorically warming my heart. I could say that even though my life is imperfect and I don't know where this bend on the path takes me, my weaknesses often surface and I feel uncertain at times, I have no regrets. This pathway is mine. It is not easy, but it belongs to me, and that in itself is wonderfully good.
My sister and I had a long satisfying conversation about things spiritual. What we were learning. "You should tell the story of the Zion Maidens on your blog," she said.
Years I've spent not fully liking myself. A bent toward people pleasing and clamoring after being loved, approved of and wanted by others. An age-old longing. God's love really the only panacea. Couldn't I get it? Don't I get it? It's taken decades.
These last months I've gotten much more skilled in receiving that divine advance of love toward me. I've surrendered to the tenderness. I feel as if I've climbed a mountain. I would name the mountain MT. IDENTITY. There's a piece of me that believes the climb is merely a mirage--that there are more and higher peaks truly impossible for me to scale. That I must somehow prove something. But there's a greater part of me that knows I've arrived. I'm at that destination of I AM THE BELOVED. That's my truth. There are no more peaks for me to summit. I've got this one. My territory is here. I've put down my flag at this place. I believe that I am the beloved of God. All of my truest identity flows from this admission. It doesn't matter that I have issues of self-doubt, passivity and lack of faith at times. All that matters is that God sees me as His, approves of me, affirms me, His affection assured, no matter my weakness, no matter my circumstances.