After finishing up "Close to Home" last winter, I slowed down a bit with the writing in order to try and catch my breath. About two months ago, however, I started getting the itch to dive again into another big project - an itch I tried and tried to convince myself would be crazy to scratch at the moment (I don't exactly have a lot of free time on my hands). "I will wait," I prayed, "wait for some kind of direction."
So out of nowhere - I mean, literally, like a bolt from the sky - I was struck last week with an inspiration that finally felt right. And now,oh boy, I have officially taken on a whole new existance, one probably best compared to pregnancy what with all of these emotions and symptoms (excitement, terror, hunger, nausea) commandeering my mind and body. Having more of an understanding this time of the risks involved in throwing yourself into a birth process, I tell you candidly that I am proceeding here with a great deal of fear and trembling. Already, our dinners have been simplified, my keys have been misplaced repeatedly (thanks for letting me borrow your car, Paige, to take Mary to pre-school), and my kids have started asking again, "Mama, who are you talking to?" as I work aloud my jumbled thoughts into clear lines and paragraphs while folding the laundry. Ah, if only the evenings were longer (or if I could subsist on but five hours of sleep)!
I've no idea where all this is heading or what the final outcome will be. For now, I'm just trying to show up every day in faith at my computer, to ignore the taunting doubts floating ominously around my head, whispering, "you can't do this."
I read the following poem yesterday and it really struck a chord with me. For more great poetry picks click HERE, as always!
Lament of the Maker
What wonders I've performed, with leaping mind,
imagining the fruit while eyeing the seed,
conjuring what's ahead while still behind,
savoring praises for the undone deed.
I have esteemed my skill so highly that
I stroll through mansions I have yet to build
and, like the seigneur or the plutocrat,
reap harvests from rich fields I have not tilled.
But when I face the drudgery of art,
bright mirrors where misunderstandings lurk,
my faltering strength just when the need is great,
I faint before the task—or rashly start,
push through to make an end, survey my work,
and smile—how fine, how small, how light in weight!
O.K., ya'll, after Wednesday's creek mishap and yesterday's window fiasco (the fiasco in which my youngest son pressed his back up against our living room picture window while trying to push the couch in front of it forward, thus shattering the glass - without cutting himself...whew! - and nearly giving his poor mother a heart attack), I am relieved to say we are back on track and no worse for the wear. Elijah's legs have thawed, the gaping hole in our wall has been covered up with plastic (classy!), and the "Glass Doctor" will be calling this afternoon with an estimate on a brand new window. For the time being, all fires have been snuffed out.
It's funny, isn't it? How those potential scenarios we lose sleep over rarely ever come to fruition - how most of the time, life throws us curve balls we never saw coming, would never have even thought to try and prepare for. Weeks like this one remind me to let go (Be Gone, you late night worries, you unyielding personal agendas!) and be eternally minded. Because in the l-o-o-o-n-g run those unexpected trials and interruptions, how we respond to them, how we either trust or not trust that Christ is in them, are what will, ultimately, either strip us of our burdensome passions or leave us blind and bitter.
Thank you so much to Emily and Jennifer (both remarkable photographers, by the way) for the Kreativ Blogger Award! Thank you to any and everyone who reads this blog, and encourages me, makes me laugh, feel less alone, through your comments and own on-line reflections!
So yesterday, the temperature peaked at a balmy 38 degrees. We took advantage of the relative warmth by piling on our scarves and hats and taking a walk to Coffee Creek Park. I hadn't realized how stale the breath was in my lungs until I heartily inhaled the invigoratingly fresh air, which felt like a cold shot of adrenaline to my restless and sluggish body. What a fantastic mood we were in, taking our good old time meandering down the sidewalk, stomping on snow mounds, using our outside voices. When we finally arrived at our destination, my children marveled at the way winter had transformed the playground, the trail, and the wooden bridge, now nearly covered in chunks of snow. The boys, who had brought along hockey sticks, started chipping away at the cloudy sheet of ice smoothed over the creek like a delicate layer of powdered sugar frosting on a cake. We watched transfixed as the frozen slabs cracked, detached, then floated lazily past us. "Look, mama, I hit it!" said little Mary, her arm still raised from lobbing a snowball toward her moving target. For a full fifteen minutes, that scene involving the kids and me being all explorative and appreciative of God's creation, was the very definition of, "idyllic."
In the blink of eye, however (as it so often goes), our sense of tranquility was swiftly shattered. My oldest son began shrieking, due to the fact that somehow or another he'd ended up taking a wrong step (putting too much faith in the durability of the ice), which landed him waist high in that old dirty, frigid creek water (um...YIKES!); thus our excursion was wrapped up pronto. We literally fled home to get Elijah out of those wet clothes and hooked up stat to an IV of hot chocolate.
Here's hoping today is far less exciting! : )
Let's see, there's Silence, The Power and the Glory, Crime and Punishment, The Great Divorce, just to name a few - all books that not only blew me away with their brilliance but shook my soul awake with their raw and unforgettable illustrations of repentance and forgiveness. These transforming experiences I've had via literature reveal again and again and again to me the salvific potential of the written word. I like writers who aren't afraid to tell it like it is, who don't shy away from the messiness of life and love - the "grace and violence" of humanity. They remind me to never ever assume I've figured out the mysteriousness and pervasiveness of God's mercy. I want this: to spark a fire of hope and resolve in another the way I've been prodded repeatedly from out of a spiritual stupor by men and women brave enough to neither water down nor sugar coat the Truth. That art can transcend our base frailty, that any of us can act as a beacon despite (because of?) our utter lack of confidence in ourselves, is a wonder.
And Then There Is That Incredible Moment,
when you realize what you're reading,
what's being revealed to you, how it is not
what you expected, what you thought
you were reading, where you thought you were heading.
Then there is that incredible knowing
that surges up in you, speeding
your heart; and you swear you will keep on reading,
keep on writing until you find another not going
where you thought—and until you have taken
someone on that ride, so that they take in
their breath, so that they let out their
sigh, so that they will swear
they will not rest until they too
have taken someone the way they were taken by you.
- Kate Light
I took the above photo (I'm wide awake: 72 of 365) first thing yesterday morning.
Read other poetry HERE.
I am thankful to have access to individuals who act. I, myself, am more apt to think and think and rethink about how to make a difference, while twiddling my thumbs and lamenting my own limited capabilities. I was inspired by the many of you I heard from working together with your communities and parishes to gather cleaning/ hygiene supplies for those in Haiti so desperately in need of them. This past Friday, I mentioned your generosity to my sister-in-law, Paige, and friend, Kris, who immediately said, "Yes (while I was still hemming and hawing)! We should do this."
Thus this week, I am hoping to be very busy packing up combs, nail files, wash clothes and toothbrushes into zip lock bags to be sent off to IOCC. I am hoping as well that my children, through this experience, will come to equate love with action. We are intertwined, you and me, we and them, all eternally connected. The time has come to quit bemoaning my smallness and weakness - to develop and practice a habit of response, trusting that Christ can multiply 100-fold my imperfect and meager offerings.
A blessed Monday to you all! Count your many, many blessings!
So this old hyperactive brain of mine is unusually blank this morning (a condition often referred to as, "writer's block"), my torrential river of random thoughts all dried out and dusty. I'm taking it as a sign that maybe today would be a good day for evaluating less and absorbing more.
Sometimes (lots of the time) I keep myself busy by analyzing the past and dreaming about the future, planning ahead for both myself and for my children (If I educate, discipline, encourage them this certain way, space my personal projects out just like so, then ten years from now we will be ... what? successful? emotionally/physically healthy? happy? at peace? still alive on this earth? Who's to say? ). And then other times, like right this second, when I'm craving stillness, it seems that this present moment is all that matters (is all there is), that tomorrow is as graspable, as ownable, as air.
Hush now, unruffle those feathers, kiss your babies, cast your cares at the feet of Christ who is everywhere and fills everything. Let's you and me quiet our worries and insecurities for awhile - we'll suck the marrow right out of this Friday by loving God above all else, for out of such single-minded devotion flows hope, wisdom, and the miraculous awareness that both the joyful times and the hardships are a means of salvation.photo taken by me (on our Christmas vacation) at the gorgeous St. Michael Orthodox Church in Louisville, KY.
It is easy to forget there is a big old universe out there when the only people I associate with for the better part of each week share my blood and last name. You want to know something ridiculous? I have been totally obsessed lately with the procuring of a new coffee maker. It's just that our current one is quite slow and inefficient, resulting in lukewarmness, weakness. Who wants to start their morning off like that, with a mug of not hot enough, not strong enough coffee (liquid gold)? This is exactly what I was thinking about when I first heard the news and saw the horrific images of men, women and children looking lost, broken, absolutely devastated by the literal crumbling of their world, one that just a few days ago seemed so distant from my own. Oh my goodness gracious, what a tragic and heartbreaking wake-up call: it isn't all about me and my molehill-sized frustrations. I am but one of many; I'm a part of something bigger than myself.
As I type this, there are mothers wailing and fathers beating their breasts in anguish. There are boys and girls in desperate need of food and shelter. Is it really all that bad to have to zap my coffee in the microwave for a few seconds? In light of the suffering my fellow human beings have, are currently, and will someday endure, I am embarrassed now (having been so joltingly reminded this week of how truly little I have to complain about) to have to even ask myself such a question. Perhaps the money I was working so hard to scrounge up (you know, for the sake of satisfying my caffeine cravings) would be better spent elsewhere. Please, please join me in supporting IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) as they begin to mobilize their disaster response team in Haiti. You can click HERE to make a monetary donation or HERE and HERE to learn about assembling much needed hygiene kits and emergency clean-up buckets.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us!
In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you
- Leo Tolstoy
It's Poetry Wednesday and I'd like to share with you a short verse written by a local author - I mean really local...like he lives here, in this house with us. I'm playing this overly-sentimental kind of music (music I happen to actually enjoy - just ask my eye rolling husband) because reading this poem tends to make me feel a little overly-sentimental. It's just I'm so used to my ten-year-old son going on and on and on...and on about only science fiction-y stuff, stuff I have tried to understand, but to no avail; unfortunately, I do not have the mental capacity to absorb and translate such cryptic and impressively detailed space/fantasy terminology. This piece of writing reveals a softer side of him I don't often get to see or connect with.
His assignment (an assignment -surprise, surprise - he did not bristle at in the least) was to pick a subject, come up with a dozen nouns to describe it, and then incorporate them into a poem. I left him alone in the office with his list and a mug of hot chocolate and when I returned only a little while later, I saw this on the screen of our computer:Clouds covering a blue horizon.
Planes and birds marvel in their kingdom.
Weather and seasons juggle in their never-stopping cycle.
The sun smiles down, ensuring day.
The moon and his stars with their glowing eyes, inform us that night has begun.
As we all stare at the sky.
I love that Elijah's imagination is filled to the brim with magical worlds and talking, winged, sword- carrying creatures; to soon, his thoughts will be all swollen and distracted with future ambitions, insecurities, g-i-r-l-s, what-have-you. But every once in awhile, it is thrilling to catch a glimpse of myself in that boy. I, too, wrote poems at his age - pretty lame ones, mind you (for example: My computer has lots of keys, And a monitor that looks like a T.V. I type and type and type all day, And then sometimes I want to play. I take a disc out and put it in. I play with my computer day out and day in - is that genius or what??!). I had no concerns then about how "good" I was as a writer, just a natural interest in the sound of words strung together to paint a picture in a reader's head. Is it possible Elijah inherited more than just the shape of his eyes from me? I never dreamed an often surly, often incredibly tender-hearted, lanky, floppy-haired, Nerf gun-wielding adolescent could tug at my heart so.
Click HERE to read more poetry or to post a favorite poem of your own!
I took this at my brother's house last Saturday. The boots (aren't they just the cutest?) belong to our friend, Kris, who was also over there helping to celebrate my niece's 6th birthday. Most of the moments I capture with my camera are candid. Rarely do I ask people to stop what they're doing in order to pose - flash a smile. Sometimes, however, it is fun for me to quite purposefully manipulate the objects (and even persons) in a room in order to create a scene, tell a tale, or conjure up a mood. There is something about this particular photo (in my opinion, anyway) that exudes melancholiness. Perhaps it's that mysterious window. I like that, because of the blinding brightness of the sun's reflection on the snow, you cannot see what is happening on the other side of it - I appreciate how the blankness allows one's imagination to roam (ooh, how fun! A story writing prompt! ), to invent any number of compelling scenarios.
My son, Elijah, and I just read a book together about a young boy whose life is altered dramatically by the horrors and hardships of the Civil War. It described how his lovesick older sister would stare out at the road, waiting anxiously every day for her father to return home from town with the mail. Would there (Please say yes!) be a letter from her sweetheart fighting bravely as a Union soldier? That is what comes to mind when I look at this. I picture a girl ready at a second's notice to pull on those darling green boots and run out to meet the postman, the UPS truck (bearing an engraved, gift-wrapped, heart-shaped locket, of course), the 1-800-flowers delivery guy, or maybe the love of her life, himself, who, she is hoping beyond hope, might show up unexpectedly, running determinedly with open arms toward her front door (Oh my, he's been gone so long!).
"I wonder," she finally says to herself after peering sadly, for hours, at the empty sidewalk, resigned to the growing inevitably of another lonely afternoon, "if he ever thinks of me."
I'm such a sap. : )