Monthly Archives: March 2008

Isaiah Spring

Branch etched air,
Bears blue,
Like smoke before an altar,
And the birds,
Awhir with laughter call out,
Holy, holy, holy

Snow carved boughs
Grow gold,
Like coins of countless treasure,
And the fields
A-filled with lilies claim as,
Lord, the God of Hosts

Wind hewn hills,
Spill green,
In torrents through the valley,
And the woods,
Aflood in leaf buds say,
The earth is full, full, full

First spring dawn,
Runs red,
Like blood through brightened faces
And the sky,
Afire, is seared with fervent traces,
Of His glory, glory, glory

(This is what comes of studying Isaiah for three hours on a Saturday afternoon, followed by a long ramble through springtime fields with daffodils…)

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Life

And the wrens have returned to their nesting,
In the hollow of the oak,
Where his heart once had been,
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing,
For being born again.
And the streams are all swollen with winter,
Winter unfrozen, and free to run away now.
And I’m amazed when I remember
Who it was that built this house
And with the rocks I cry out,
Be praised for all your tenderness
By these works of your hands,
Suns that rise and rains that fall to bless
And bring to life your lands,
Look down upon this winter wheat
And be glad that you have made,
Blue for the sky and the color green,
That fills these fields with praise.

-Rich Mullins

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Last day fun

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Matching shawls!
(Can’t you see us as romantic Victorian writers? A lot of silliness goes into the creative process of a good book. )

One more writing day, one more long walk (or three) down windy, fir-lined paths with a few daffodils, one more leisurely cup of coffee and one more great Asheville meal (last night’s pan-fried trout with mountain blackberries will be hard to beat) and then back to the real world (gulp). Thank you all, wonderful people, for the great restaurant recommendations and all the fun words! I like knowing there are so many kindred spirits in the world. We’ll try one more outstanding cafe tonight to end our retreat (we really enjoyed Early Girl Eatery last night). More soon, but for now, here’s a good morning to you all from our last Asheville day; it’s sunny and cool and I found springtime shooting up all around me on my morning walk. What a wonderful place to be.

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Filed under Musings, Travel

This morning I…

photo-111.jpgWoke late to the blue shadows, lit a candle in crystal and stretched my soul muscles to this hymn.

Walked down vine-framed streets to watch a pale, golden light rise on the far-off hills.

Drank coffee, lots of it (specially flavored with salt and cinnamon), and nibbled at strawberries and banana bread.

Read this luminescent passage from Elizabeth Goudge quoting John Donne: And so, good people, ‘we will speak of that which is older than our beginning and shall overlive our end, the mercy of God. Nay, to say that mercy was first is but to post-date mercy; to prefer mercy but so is to diminish mercy. The names of first or last derogate from it, for first and last are but rags of time, and His mercy hath no relation to time, no limitation in time. It is not first or last but everlasting.’

Took this picture using my computer. (It was the best I could manage for now.)

Managed to finish three mini-essays.

Laughed with my mom (about too many things to number).

Draped my shoulders with my cream-colored scarf (the little writing porch is rather chill) and felt appropriately old-fashioned in this creaky, adorable house.

Wished all of you a springtime sort of day.

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Asheville

Well, I am in one of my favorite places on this wide earth. For a few days I get to shove my book deadline aside and breathe again. I’m still working, ghostwriting on one of my mom’s books, but it is incredibly easier to write stuff for other people, a great paradox of artistry. My mom and I started coming to this artsy, mountain blessed town about five years ago and fell into an unexpected love for it. A hysterical story (which deserves a better telling than I currently have to give) landed us at an old B&B called the Wright Inn, which the owner loved since we were there to write (you know, “writers” at the “Wright” inn…) Since then, we’ve come back two or three times and now feel that this is a sort of alternate, perhaps ideal, home.

I don’t know why I love it here so much; it is an inexplicable weaving of fondness made up of nature love (the blue wreathed mountains and the forests, and the barren trees in winter…), a delight in the artsy nooks and gourmet corners all around town, my downright affection for the old neighborhood here with its gigantic old houses with their beveled glass windows. I don’t know; there’s just a tang of artistry, a flavor of beauty and life lived well, and slowly, that we enter when we visit. Sometimes its hard to be quiet, to rest at home. Here, I can allow myself a better, deeper breath (of blue spring air no less). Long, long walks in frosty twilights midst the shadow of long-lived houses. Lingering breakfasts at a corner, organic cafe with the matchless name of Honey Tupelo’s. Prayer; slowly, sweetly thought and lifted up to this very kind God who brought me here for these days.

Ahhh. And anyway. I’m brewing up a good post on God’s love. I’ve been stewing on it for days and there’s finally a gathering coherency to my thoughts. So I’ll write again soon. But for now, I bid you a lovely good evening from the twilight of the Wright House in old Asheville. The stars are just beginning to sing…

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Filed under Musings, Travel

Oh my!

Rip-tide, flash flood or perhaps a hurricane shot through with tornades; I can’t decide which best captures the general sense of my life lately.

Time has burst his dam and is flooding through my life with a swiftness I can’t hope to stem. I’m a little put out. Usually time seems rather a mild-mannered gentleman, even somewhat reserved in personality. But lately he has morphed into a petulant rebel rushing through my existence in a wild torrent of minutes that downright sweeps me off my feet (not in a good way!). And you are left here, without a single word of thanks for your all your really thoughtful comments and encouragement. So, I’m snatching this strangely calm minute to scribble a hasty thank you to you lovely souls who still visit now and then and even comment. You are a gracious bunch!

I suppose I ought to blame some of this mental blur on my current book deadline. I’m a bit like Jo in Little Women when she hunches up in the attic and enters her “vortex”. My vortex is a result of my general procrastination when it comes to writing…which means that on book deadlines I spend 2-3 weeks eating, sleeping, and breathing my book in various coffee shops around town. But I’m almost there! I can see the light! Thanks for being patient with me as I finish. Until that blessed day, here are a few of the graces with which God has very sweetly sustained me in the midst of my craziness. I thought perhaps you could use them too! I personally vouch for the restorative powers of each one:

Lavender Earl Gray Tea: Especially fortifying to weary brains when brewed in a real pot, sipped out of a decent cup and accompanied by a tiny crystal pitcher of creamy milk. There is something in actually taking time for ritual that makes me feel at least partially human again.

Glen Packiam’s Talks on Worship: My church hosts a Friday night service for twenty-somethings and this past Friday I had the great privilege of hearing Glen Packiam speak about worship as you are walking in the valley of death. Joel was with me and we both walked out of the service, glanced over at each other and almost simultaneously said “that was one of the best sermon’s I have ever heard”. The depth of Glen’s thoughts on what it means to walk through outer trouble and yet fear no inner evil is so strengthening to me. And the last bit, when he talks his way through the journey of the book of Psalms… I won’t forget that for a long time. Best of all, these are available as a free podcast from iTunes. Just follow this link to theMill website and it will direct you to the series. Look for the talks by Glen Packiam titled Resonate.

Precepts Study of Isaiah: A couple of years back, I was part of the best little Bible study group that ever gathered and was introduced to the world of Precepts Bible studies. I am now doing studying the book of Isaiah with them (I just do it from a thousand miles away) and am so enriched, so comforted, so expanded by what I am learning. I know people have various views on the inductive method of Bible study and these studies in particular, but I’ll just recommend them by saying that the simple study of Scripture with this resource walks me through the Bible day by day in a way that challenges, heartens and gladdens me even in the midst of an absolutely crazy life. You might just want to give it a try.

Photo & Recipe Blogs: Sometimes I just need a quick jot of beauty when I am having a brain freeze over a particular paragraph and in those moments, I am turning to these three photo blogs for a daily dose of colorful, contemplative soul food: Today I Am Mostly, Simply Breakfast, and SouleMama (I love SouleMama for other reasons as well). And when my brain is completely fried and I simply cannot thread another word through the needle of my thought, I cook. Yes, there is something particularly cathartic in the detailed, mindless, and yet highly creative atmosphere of cooking. It helps my brain to unwind. Lately, I’ve found plenty of inspiration at these blogs: Orangette, Soup Spoon, and Smitten Kitchen. Perhaps you will too.

This would definitely be one of those blogs that falls under the “I do apologize for the length of this letter, I didn’t have time to write a short one” (said by some famous author) category. Oh well. Just know I love writing to you all and am optimistically expecting to begin it regularly again within the next few days. Have a lovely afternoon!

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