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.
We are never as alone in our beginnings as it might seem at the time. A beginning is ultimately an invitation to open toward the gifts and growth that are stored up for us. To refuse to begin can be an act of great self-neglect.~John O'Donohue From To Bless The Space Between Us
I'm surrounded now by people in my life who are initiating beginnings. A friend of mine walked me through his newly purchased empty house and pointed to the wall he would tear down, and then explained to me where another one would be erected. A couple showed me where they are planting new shrubs and trees, planning for eventual shade. Another person told me of a trip he planned after many months of COVID isolation. Another friend shared she'd begun a painting she'd been thinking about for many months. "It's daunting. I don't know if I'll ever finish it."
A dear lifelong friend shared that she and her family decided to move, uprooting from a home where she'd spent the last sixteen years raising her family. While bittersweet to know she'd be further away, I felt excitement for her as I sensed she'd taken a risk to begin anew. Her announcement that she was moving came simultaneously with something I'd been pondering lately--wondering if I could begin writing blessings for people. Before I left her home, my friend gave me a newspaper article she thought I'd enjoy. In the article, I discovered John O'Donohue's book, To Bless The Space Between Us. The book is filled with blessings for various events in life. I decided I could begin to write blessings for my friends and for people I don't know, like many of you loyal readers who allow me into your lives each week. Here is my beginning...
Being a man, being a woman, being a human being--it all hangs on such fragile architecture.~ Deb Caletti (From He's Gone)
I was very young and didn't know what I was doing. I was twenty, but even then, I knew something of sorrow. Knew when someone needed the weight, the circumference of mercy. The young woman in my college sorority came into our world of parties and protocols looking just as we all wanted our new pledges to look. Creamy, flawless skin and luxuriant, sleek dark hair. Blue eyes. There was a certain wildness there too that was magnetizing. When these attributes became integrated with all the things one doesn't talk about in polite company, though we know that these unspeakables are all part of the scene in sororities--drugs, sex and alcohol--she became unhinged. Alicia (not her real name) was asked to leave the sorority. It was horrible.
One night before she left, I walked down the hallway past her room. I almost didn't stop, but when I put my ear to her door, I could hear muffled sobbing. I knocked. A timid tapping. The crying continued. I pounded then and said out loud, "Alicia, can I come in?" She didn't respond, but the sobbing increased. I placed my hand on the doorknob. I can still almost feel the imprint of that knob on my palm as I let myself in and shut the door behind me. Alicia was stretched out on her bed, the room dark except for a line of light from the hallway at the bottom of the door. I walked toward the bed and whispered her name. "Alicia." I didn't know what to say. I only knew that she must feel shame about what happened. And then treated so poorly by the sorority. She didn't deserve to be kicked out. Her only "sin" being that her behaviors became public. Probably every other woman in the sorority had similar issues (including myself), but we'd managed to keep them secret.
Wait passionately for God, don't leave the path.~Psalm 37:34 (The Message)
Earlier this week I had a conversation with a person I'm able to be real with. I said, "I'm trying to stay on the path. I know there is a lit place, a location where there's light, no shadows. Yet I'm struggling to choose that locale." She answered, "I know. I sometimes I face this same challenge. It can feel easier to stay in the shadows, the melancholy." I answered, "Yes, I find this to be true for me as well." She asked, "What do you do when you find yourself in the shadows? How do you move toward the light-filled place?"
I said, "I think first I recognize that I'm my own worst accuser of how I'm failing at life. "You've eaten so badly today. Too much chocolate, too much white bread. How do you think this is going to help you stay healthy?" Or, "You really should be more productive with writing, with exercise, with loving others, with learning Italian. You have time now that you're retired. Get off your tush and get some things done." As soon as I confessed this, I realized how dark it was. How dumb. How destructive. Then I said, "Really, the best way I know to stay in the light is to review my promises from God. When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you. (Psalm 42:6,The Message).
Perfectionism is fear in a fancy dress.~Julia Cameron From The Listening Path, The Creative Art of Attention
We hear the word constantly. It is ubiquitous in our culture...the perfect holiday, the perfect pet; the perfect home; the perfect body; the perfect car; the perfect smile; the perfect job; the perfect bathroom; the perfect friend; the perfect lawn; the perfect life. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Perfection is a dangerous concept, because it is impossible to achieve. I lose sight of this truth over and over again.
A few weeks ago, I found myself making excuses about sitting down at the computer to work on my novel. "I just don't have the next scene down in my mind," I said to myself. "It has got to be perfect. This is the part where my character tells someone for the first time what she feels so ashamed about. This scene is pivotal; I have to do it justice. I have to be true to my character. I can't mess this up." The narrative in my mind drove me away from writing. I didn't write for two weeks. Usually I try to write several scenes a week. Perfectionism had cast its ugly spell.
Julia Cameron writes in her latest book, The Listening Path, The Creative Art of Attention: "We can do a great deal more than our fears would have us believe. We are afraid of looking foolish, and so we hang back, telling ourselves we are being sensible. The truth is, there is nothing sensible about hanging back. We deprive ourselves of the joy of creation. We deny our human need to create. Our dreams and desires are intended to be fulfilled. Hanging back, we thwart our true nature. We are intended to be creative, attend to the whisper that says, 'You can, just try.'"
She said the music made her wonder; does it alter us more to be heard or to hear?~Madeleine Thien
I didn't think I missed it. The salt marsh I walked to almost daily for over ten years. Yesterday I had to drive over to the old neighborhood to check the PO Box, then found myself driving down to the creek at the end of the road where I used to live. Sadness washed over me. I realized I'd missed the creek's presence, its silence. The solitude. Sitting in my car there by the water, I felt an "after" grief, a dawning of losing something.
I don't believe I'd faced the loss until then. Maybe couldn't face it was more honest.
Giovanni and I threw ourselves so thoroughly into moving after my retirement that I was consumed with the process. Until now. We have settled. It is quiet, and I have craved this silence, this solitude for many years. Perhaps that's what the tidal marsh did for me--created a tangible metaphor for that which I hungered.
Now I have what I've desired--space, margin and an unhurried pace. Yet I'm not sure what to do with it.