Monthly Archives: June 2008

Somethin’s brewing…

Oh friends… there’s change in the air. Big things happenin’ here in my little corner of the earth. As soon as I’m free to tell it all, you can expect a very wordy and ecstatic post. Oh my. Oh my, my, my. Till then…

I toast you with a cup of tea.

It was brought to my attention recently that I am not very adept (or prompt or reliable) at responding to the very generous comments left on my posts. I’m sorry. Truly, I am. I value every single comment you lovely people leave for me to find. They are like little jewels to me, tiny treasures that add a priceless quality to my day. But I will admit that I am just overwhelmed enough, just busy enough, and just flaky enough to often forget to reply. I feel it as a failure and a loss of possible conversations. I hope to amend this somewhat in future, though my life isn’t slowing down. For now, please know that however awful I am at replying, I do value you as readers and friends and fellow journeying souls.

So here’s a teacup toast to you. Thanks for reading.

10 Comments

Filed under Musings

Tagged for Books!

I don’t know that I’ve ever done one of these before, but since my new friend Grace over at My Spare Oom tagged me with this meme, and it was about books of all things, I couldn’t resist. Look out though, I’ll be tagging six of you quite soon!

Who’s your all-time favorite author and why?

As if I really could chose a single all time favorite! ‘Tis an utter impossibility my friends. But I will say that George MacDonald is the sort of author who, for me, never loses his charm. He thinks about God in a way that few people do; C.S. Lewis said he was a writer nearer the Spirit of Christ than any other author he had encountered. His deep, deep confidence in the fatherhood of God pervades every sentence of his writing. He was a prolific writer of poetry, devotional, fantasy, fairy tale, children’s books, fiction, and essays. But it is his classic works of fantasy for children and adults that most captivate me. They are spiritual reality enfleshed; ideas clothes in images. My favorite is Lilith (for adults), and At the Back of the North Wind (children’s literature). Be warned though, these are the sort of books that demand a lot of imagination and numerous readings to mine their symbolism and rich imagery.

Who was your first favorite author and why? Do you still consider him/her among your favorites?

Though not my first ever favorite author, Madeleine L’Engle was the first author I idolized as a young writer newly aware of my inbuilt desire to write. She is mostly known for her fiction, but it was her nonfiction that captivated me because of it’s spiritual vivacity and deep respect for beauty. I started with her Genesis Trilogy, which I sorta credit with saving me from my own doubts about God’s goodness in a particularly difficult few months in my teenage years. Her beloved book on faith and creativity, Walking on Water, was also a landmark book for me in the way it gave expression to the thoughts just beginning to waken in my soul about being a creator along with God. Definitely still among my favorites.

Who’s the most recent addition to your list of favorite authors, and why?

Wendell Berry. He is the rare sort of author that challenges me to vigorous thought, sometimes painful conviction, and yet uses his words to make me feel that I have come home. He startles and challenges in order to coax his readers back into a rediscovery of peace, beauty and fulfillment. He has a startlingly clear grasp of the issues facing modern culture, especially as they relate to family, community, and moral responsibility. He has changed a lot of how I view things. Life is a Miracle was the first book I read by him. Woke me straight up and kept me that way. I just finished a piece of his fiction titled A World Lost (a novella written through the eyes of a young boy as he experiences the consequences of his uncle’s death) and am currently deep in the midst of his famous collection of essays Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community. He is, as a friend recently said, the sort of author who demands immediate attention to the point of flinging aside other books.

If someone asked you who your favorite authors were right now, which authors would first pop out of your mouth?

C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, George MacDonald, Elizabeth Goudge, Wendell Berry, Annie Dillard, Leif Enger, George Eliot, Auden.

(Rules. Link to the person that tagged you, post the rules somewhere in your meme, answer the questions, tag six people in your post, let the tagees know they’ve been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog, let the tagger know your entry is posted.)

4 Comments

Filed under Books, Musings

Sunny woes

You would probably laugh if you could see me right now. I’ve been laughing myself… when I’m not wincing. Who could have known that just an hour on the patio of a coffee shop in the mountain sun would turn my left arm a nice ripe shade of magenta? If I’d known, I’d at least have given the other one a chance to get colorful too. Sigh. I try. so. hard. to be sophisticated. Oh well.

The only remedy for this predicament I know is to be outside even more than usual and let the other side get a bit pink (the idea of a tan is something at which my Scottish skin merely blushes), and throw sophistication to the cool rush of summer wind. Besides, being sunburned means the full glory of golden days really has come. Summer, my starlight and campfires and sunburns love, you are here!

With that thought in my happy head and the idea that I might get a bit more color, I drove to the upper slopes of the foothills near my old house last night. There is a dusty red snake of a road up the side of what we call Mt. Herman and I strolled it as a storm flooded in. There is such a magic to being high enough up a mountain to watch the entire eastern sky surge with thunder in a dozen different colors. I watched the first lightning snap through the darkness of un-spilled rain, saw the last fierce sunlight flee up the sides of vast thunderheads leaving crimson tracks of smoldering light, felt the gathering run of wind and the first tremble of earth. And I felt, as I often do, that I was lacking a few extra senses to really comprehend the shocking grandeur. I’m looking forward to gaining those in eternity.

So, you see, I’ve had a colorful week! Literally, and spiritually that is. Glory be!

5 Comments

Filed under Musings, Nature

A small shelter

I picked my first summer bundle of wildflowers today.

There is a sweet green twist of a path that runs behind our row of houses and I ambled down it today when the air was still and grey above the mountains. I always feel that I am trespassing on this little universe of elusive, tiny things; star-like daisies the size of my baby fingernail, dwarf butterflies of periwinkle that flit around my clumsy feet, and the first, timid lupines of the gentlest blue. It is a little world enclosed by slender young aspens, and staid young firs of already unyielding green. It makes me feel small again myself to enter it; I like that. I like to feel that there is a border to my world once in awhile, and that I am kept safe within it, amidst its castle keeps of trees and its riches of meadow grass. So I chose that path today and took it slow, my fingers caressing the new velvet of scrub oak leaves and the first, slender cords of blue and gold from which I wove my bouquet.

I came back when the air was getting ominously still and the sky a little too grey, housed my newfound flowers in crystal and set them on my windowsill. Having poured a strong cup of tea, I then sat in the summer gloom to watch them and love their haphazard grace and feel very happy. To behold them there on the severe white of my windowseat in the strong, dark light of a coming storm was a sort of nourishment. It did me good; I felt stronger in spirit when I rose. I must admit to being a little tired of late, as all the piled up days of craze have finally heaped themselves on my unsuspecting head. As I pursue my fled energy, I have found great shelter in the respites of small, new summer beauties. I felt like a footsore soldier who stumbled upon unexpected refuge when i walked my path today. And the flowers I brought back with me were like the last bits of a feast laid out to hearten my weary bones. It feels a long hike sometimes back to normalcy but the nourishment of small, freely given grace from the earth and from the people around me, hearten me in the journey.

I hope you find some heartening today as well, my good friends.

5 Comments

Filed under Musings, Nature

Breathless

It’s a getting up
A keeping on,
The dance to an eternal song,
A turning round until,
You’re right again.
A journey up,
A setting to,
The trilling of an endless tune,
A crazy whirl that never seems to end.

It’s the high road up to heaven,
And it just keeps winding round,
Up to laughter,
Down to sorrow,
Through the nights and new tomorrows,
And though I’m breathless,
Still it seems,
That I am bound,
To journey on.

4 Comments

Filed under Contemplations, Poetry

What is creation?

Art ought always to be a response.

What do you think of that?

I don’t yet know what I think of it truly. But a fresh conviction came to me tonight, timid but persistent, that the act of creation ought always to be a response. To grief perhaps, or joy; to beauty, to pain, to any possible force or fact in the universe that can prod the human self awake. A spiritual reaction driven to expression by the wondering that woke it. My every word should be born of a need to express some knowing or emotion that has burgeoned up within my soul. I write by way of response, I speak because something has spoken into me.

I could be stating the extremely obvious here, but I am beginning to see in my life how broken a thing it is to write apart from response. Because, for me to create something apart from response to some outside emotion or beauty means that I draw creation out of the foundation of my self. What’s wrong with that I ask? Only that to write from the basis of my small knowledge, my little strength is really, to write out of a void. I am aware of a dull shame in me that knows that often I have written from the heady love of my own self worth; my wisdom, my insight, my hoarded authority. I have written in response to myself. And while any skillful expression is always a form of accomplishment, it isn’t necessarily, or perhaps almost ever, true creation. There is a sharp polarity between the well-honed words of carefully displayed knowledge, and the fitful, gorgeous torrent of expression spilling from a brain startled into speech.

In that way, I think that the act of creation is profoundly sacred because it teaches me yet again, to know that my human heart was made in all things to respond to something entirely beyond it. I’m beginning to perceive that I bring very little to the table of life… or truly poignant creation. The sort of art that embodies the cry of the human heart must be at its core, a cry of response itself. It is a cry echoed out to the Reality that provokes our hearts, pricks our souls, draws words from our mute, stubborn lips. I am humbled tonight to understand, to assent to the fact that I cannot draw great beauty or even salvation out of myself. If I tried, my creation would be only a subtly disguised worship of my own being. Creation must always be born of my heart’s response to that which cries out in the world around me.

But oh, I don’t mean that writing, that the crafting of any art, doesn’t require discipline. It does. Art of any kind requires a grand and daily diligence to show up and explore, to watch, and to follow the wakings of my heart when they come. I think I must be in some way a steward of the wonder I encounter. There is some sort of merit in me that is measured by the faith and skill I bring to the act of responsive creation. Writing sure doesn’t seem to be rosebuds and window seats. It takes gritty work to create, to encapsulate wonder, to even be the sort of person capable of response.

Like I said, these are wispy, just forming thoughts. I’m not sure how absolutely to state them. But I’m curious… are you?

4 Comments

Filed under Musings, Random (and I do mean random) Thoughts

Wondering

The eyes of my soul were opened and I beheld the plenitude of God, wherein I did comprehend the whole world, both here and beyond the sea, and the abyss and the ocean and all things. In all these things I beheld naught save the divine power, in a manner assuredly indescribable, so that through excess of marveling, the soul cried with a loud voice, saying ‘this whole world if filled with God!’ Wherefore I now comprehended how small a thing was the whole world… and that the power of God exceeds and fills all. Then He said unto me, “I have shown thee something of My power”, and I understood that after this, I should better understand the rest. He said then, “behold my humility”. Then I was given an insight into the deep humility of God towards man. And comprehending that unspeakable power and deep humility, my soul marveled greatly and did esteem itself to be nothing at all. -St. Angela of Foligno (from Mysticism)

I read that this morning and found an instant catch in my brain at that last part, the deep humility of God… towards man. My presuppositions found themselves in a sudden disconnect. My conception of humility is of someone who thinks themselves worth nothing; not in a derogatory sense, but in that easy absence of self, that indefinable lack of demand upon the world that weaves such a sweet gentleness in the presence of some people. This is not something I usually equate with God. My conception of the Creator is more in line with the first part of the quote; a being (whom I eagerly love and worship) of “unspeakable” power. And I realized that it is hard for me to think about God in terms of someone who thinks of Himself as worth nothing. He’s God. By definition, he is Everything. How can you be humble when you are the essence of being?

My thought usually reconciles the idea of God’s humility by considering it another branch of his power. A sort of super strength of self-abnegation that makes a divine humility that is expressed in divine ways of merciful condescension. I see him as this grand king who is always aware of his kingship as he walks among lesser men with grants and boons of mercy. Still a humbling; but not the easy, selfless sweetness I associate with human humility. And that is, of course, part of the truth.

But this morning as this idea of God’s humility brewed in my brain, I had this sense of being jolted awake. God, humble toward man? God… selfless? Like, he really didn’t think about himself and his greatness when he was saving us? Could God, (God!), have really thought himself worth nothing in the face of his love for us? What if God really did, not in a cosmic or divine sense, but in a dust and breath sort of way, a human way, literally consider Himself as nothing? What if the other part of the truth that I have never grasped is that salvation was the simple impulse of a loving heart to thoughtlessly give itself away for the one it loved? Not a self-important sacrifice but a gentle, tender giving driven by an artless love. Could God be so unspeakably sweet… so innocent? Of course, it is what my heart has always wanted. The miracle is that I begin to realize it is true.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized