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.
The Aramaic uses a metaphor, "a beautiful testimony from the wilderness." This means he has passed through his wilderness journey and is now seen as tested and proven.~ Footnote from the The Passion Translation referencing I Timothy 3:7
Tomorrow we flip the calendar to 2022. What geography will you discover in the New Year? Maybe some of you feel as if the territory of 2021 tested you mightily. "Proven" may still seem a glimmer in the distance. Wherever you are, you have a story to tell, and you've kept traveling. Well done! As you step over the threshold into 2022, I send a blessing...
As you put away the Christmas ornaments, take down the tree and remove the lights on the roof, may you not dwell on the fact that the festivities are over, but rather on the surety of God's faithfulness, and the expectation of His goodness that trails you, even if you believe you're still on the wilderness pathway.
Or perhaps you're thrilled that the celebrations have ended and you can get back to your routines. No more weird or awkward family gatherings or too much sugar. Revel in His mercy that supports you still.
As you move ahead, may you love others deeply with a pure heart.
May you be flooded with incredible grace, like a river overflowing its banks.
May you embrace the mysteries of faith.
I heard the holy melody as I crossed the threshold of the church door. The organist went between the piano and the organ playing so radiantly and triumphantly it almost made me ache from the beauty of the chords. The congregation was provided a bulletin with the song lyrics and the Scripture readings. I came home and highlighted the phrases I loved from the leaflet. I provide them here as they comprise such a lyrical Christmas poem.
O come, O Bright and Morning Star and bring us comfort from afar!
Dispel the shadows of the night and turn our darkness into light.
Bid all our sad divisions cease and be yourself our King of Peace.
And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might.
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Let loving hearts enthrone him.
And he shall be their peace.
The air is warm and sweet. Stars burn here and there. In the distance little strands of glitter climb the hills.~Anthony Doerr (From Four Season in Rome)
I almost didn't go. I was out Christmas shopping and running errands. But I was so close, so close to the ocean, the coastline only a few miles away. My mind attempted to talk me out of driving the short distance. "There's the issue of parking, not to mention you'll probably need an app to pay. You don't have time to figure that out." Yet I kept thinking, too, "But I'm so close."
Only an old blue pick-up sat in the gravel parking lot. I didn't need an app. I typed in my license plate number at the parking meter, slipped in my credit card, and for two dollars I bought an hour to walk along the beach. I felt like I might explode with happiness. I could see a couple of surfers in the distance bobbling in the silvered waves, like sleek seals in their black wet suits. I walked in solitude, no one else around. It was as if I couldn't gulp down all the beauty surrounding me. The tide was out, and shards of burgundy, amber, bronze and sepia-striped shells lay embedded in the hard-packed sand, like elegant gemstones. A seagull glided above me, winging its way through cirrus clouds, blue slices of sky peering through feathery shapes. I inhaled pungent salty air, listened to the ocean.
Poem In The Night Watches
You are the beloved.
Hide in me.
Shelter in me.
For this is the season of healing favor.
And I will help you like a father.~Poem I heard in my dream, December 10, 2021
Perhaps my dream manifested when I opened a Christmas card that contained the image you see in the post. The photograph is described as "A shelterbelt in Aurora County, South Dakota." The inscription on the card said, "You hide them safely away."~Psalm 31:20.
I ponder my dream now too. In the dream, I sat at a desk in a room with a high ceiling. Light streamed in through long-paned windows that created dappled patterns on a wooden floor. A few high-backed dining chairs were positioned around the room. There was no other furniture or décor. I heard a knock on the door outside the room and called out, "Come in." A young man, maybe 25, entered the room and stood before me. His dark hair was short, shaved closely on the sides, his eyes deeply blue, cobalt. He wore jeans, slashed at the knees and a gray long-sleeved shirt. He didn't speak, but he didn't really need to. His expression was profoundly sad, like his face was about to melt. For a split second, I almost told him to go away. But I could tell he was friendly, just very, very sad. Then I said to him, "You can stay, because you've helped me to process some of my own sadness and disappointment, especially during this god-awful Pandemic. But you have to promise me one thing, if I let you stay, you'll have to agree to sit down and take care of yourself, drink some hot tea. We need to invite some joy and laughter into this big room, fill it up with some other things besides sadness. Will you do that?" I asked. He nodded his head, a smile beginning to bloom on his handsome face and sat down. I poured him some tea. It might have been peppermint.
Join with those who sing, tell stories, take pleasure in life, and have joy in their eyes, because joy is contagious and can prevent others from becoming paralyzed by depression, loneliness, and difficulties. ~Paulo Coelho (From The Archer)
I almost surrendered to the negativity of my own inner critic this week. My inner critic has a name, Professor Zizzle. He is a nasty little man with a rotund belly and thinning hair. Filled with hubris and contempt for any enthusiasm I might exhibit, especially when it comes to writing. "You aren't literary enough." "Your writing is too simple, your vocabulary under-developed." "Your current novel that you're writing is entirely a mess. Why do you even bother continuing to write?" I almost caved. Yet I continued to view the email in my box regarding a writing contest for submission of an "in-progress" novel excerpt. Over the last months, I'd written about 35,000 words on the novel. I knew it was truly a rough draft, but there was a child-like voice inside me that transcended Professor Z's unending negative yammering. That vulnerable voice whispered, "What do you have to lose? You've written some good prose. You love your characters. They have voices too. Maybe they need to be heard. Give it a go. It's all about the 'not giving up, the moving forward.' Damn the outcome. That's not the main point. The priority is to keep taking risks."
Part of the reason Professor Zizzle lost is because of my cadre of "believing mirrors." Julia Cameron, author, and who is described as "the queen of change," defines the concept of "believing mirrors" as "persons who reflect back to you your possibility and your strength." I have a circle of safe people who believe in me. They are a group who encourage me to keep writing. I've had some experience with those who believe they have good intentions with their negative and pessimistic judgments regarding my creative efforts. It's always hurtful, like someone knocking the hope and light right out of my grasp. Believing mirrors do not lie. They don't tell you only what you want to hear. They say things like, "You've spent a lot of time on this project. I love 'x' about it. I wonder if you could tell me a little bit more about 'y.' Whatever you do, keep on going." These joyful ones help me hold on to hope and light.