Friday, June 25, 2010
-Louis Evely, french theologian
(found on the Speaking of Faith blog)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
“Writing is not about writing what we know, but trusting our vocations as a way of knowing, and writing in order to see what we do not know.”
-Scott Cairns, Faith & Writing Festival, 2010
“In the creative life, readiness is all, readiness is everything.”
-Robert Siegel, Faith & Writing Festival, 2010
Once, in a cabin in the mountains of southern Oregon, I gave myself over to words and the mystery of the space between them. I spent a week living and breathing a lyric essay I had taken to calling my labor of love. Each morning I awoke, firing up the tea kettle and opening up a book that I hoped would give me the inspiration and courage I needed to spend another day fully engrossed in my writing. In moments of emptiness, I returned to it, and in desperate moments of doubt, I chose walks instead. I learned that the movement of my feet coaxed my mind to do the same, each step encouraging a word to add on to another until the traffic jam of words began to sort itself out. During those walks I became a vessel, emptied out so that the stream of words might flow through once more.
That week I felt as though I didn't need anything. I forgot to eat. I lost track of time. I neglected socializing. I fell into moments of complete attention in which nothing else mattered but the world of words I had created. All I wanted to do was be with them, to hold them, to search within them for the light of life that I trusted would reveal itself to me, as if a gift for my patient waiting. These glimmers I kept, while the rest I trimmed away, knowing that this was what I must do if I ever wanted to come close to speaking the truth. My dear and kind professor Jessie sat alongside me as I worked that week. She read my words aloud to me and guided me through my doubts. The week progressed and I watched as my initially fragmented and fragile collection of words became stronger and more connected. I felt they were ready to enter the real world and so I made them physical. I craved the tangible, so I took the words out of my computer and I laid them out in front of me. I cut them up and rearranged them as if they were a puzzle, only with this puzzle there were endless solutions and no knowing when I had actually completed it. I had no other option but to choose trust.
Trust was everything that week. I trusted the spirit in my gut to write that essay for me. I listened to her when she bid me come write, whatever the topic she chose for me. Occasionally my logical impulses tried to intervene. They wanted to know why, what for, what does this mean? But I tried not to listen to them. I tried to simply open up and write. And in that final evening of my week, with twelve hours to complete my final draft, I trusted that the ending I had been waiting for all week to tie the loose ends together would come. It did come unexpectedly, standing in the shower while I let the day's work run off me. I wish I could tell you it was something about the way the mist fogged up the air, or the less romantic hair that had accumulated around the drain that sparked my inspiration, but I can't. It fell straight from the sky, or maybe it rose up from the earth. Either way, somehow it ended up in my hands, for no apparent reason other than the fact that I was ready to receive it.
“Readiness is all, readiness is everything,” Hamlet spoke, and Robert Siegel echoed. It was readiness that led me to rush out of the bathroom that evening, towel wrapped around me, remnants of shampoo still camped out behind my ears, and sit down in my humble living room, fire dying down in the wood stove, to type the last words that would gather my week together and send it out to be shared.
I tell you the story of this week in my life because it represents my writing life in all its fervency and earnestness. It carries all the elements I hold most dear – physicality, openness, playfulness, sharing, readiness, and trust. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of spending all of my writing life tucked away in a little cabin in the woods in a community of kindness. Walks on sidewalks in the suburbs don't fill me up quite so much as getting lost in the woods. Taking four classes at a time hinders my attentiveness and my readiness. But this is the real world, and I must return to it. My job is to look upon it in wonder, even amongst the pavement and the busyness and the cafeteria food. It's harder to settle down here. Trust doesn't come as easily. Fear and doubt paralyze me some days as I sit down before the blank screen of my computer, and on these days I must clumsily choose prayer.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
for the times between darkness and light
for the warmth of unremembered dreams
for proud fathers and their growing gardens
for bold bodies of water that tremble at my touch
for kind words, fascination, wonder
for the poetry of list-making
Friday, June 11, 2010
here is another pretty idea for my summer and yours. nightgowns --> dresses!
you can find more information about that here:
furthermore, i'm reading some great books right now:
1) A Place of My Own by Michael Pollan
he's the food guy, but now he's talking about architecture, and he's doing it quite intriguingly. the book is about his quest to design and build a writing hut in his backyard. the research he puts into his work is very fascinating. he talks about how his work as an editor and writer made him very weary of abstraction, and it was that itch that led him to consider building. he wanted to create something physical, and real, and learn a new way of knowing that was less about heads and more about hands. i can sympathize. i think that's why i bake bread.
2) God of Small Things by Arunhati Roy
this is a delightful novel that takes place in India. it is not very plot driven but the language Roy uses is so playful and refreshing. it is very reminiscent of other magical realism stories that i have read, and more particularly one hundred years of solitude - for it's odd family relations, meandering plot line, strange yet endearing little girls, and general magic and mystery. i love it very much, and one of my favorite things about it is how Roy capitalizes whenever she feels like it. like, when she feels something seems to be an Important Thing. this is very great and here is why: a.a. milne does that too in winnie the pooh and it is one of my Favorite Things. which brings me to my final point:
3) Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
is still so so good. even better, i might say, than it once was. i want you all to read it if you haven't read it in a while. and i want you to read it aloud to someone, should the opportunity present itself to you around the hour of Bed Time.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
i can't get enough of fantastic food blogs these days.
here are two of my favorite recipes that i tried out over the past couple days:
from 101 cookbooks, a recipe for baked eggs in delightful little pita bread pockets. jeremy and i made them monday morning along with some baked oatmeal and raspberries which may be the very loveliest fruit of them all.
on another note, i feel so thankful for anything that evokes in me a sense of wonder at creation. when i lived in the mountains this was a daily occurrence but it's harder to come by here. so when jeremy and i saw babies the movie this weekend, i felt very grateful for the gentle reminder that the world is humming with liveliness and reverence and mystery. we giggled and giggled because the babies were so funny but also because they were cute and we can't help but giggle at the cute things too.