Friday, July 19, 2013

A Little Garden

It feels like generations of cats have pooped here.  While I was cold inside, out in this small slice of sun, I'm hot and sweating.  The flies buzz.  The poop hangs thick in the air.  My plastic bags rustle as I gingerly pick it out of the dirt, my hands swathed in the plastic.  All the dogs I never walked, all the cats I never owned, they seem to have chosen this small space by my front door to exact their revenge.

Yet when I'm done, this small section is reclaimed.  Not perfect, but at least it is my trash bag that wreaks, not my front patio.  I cover it with a tarp, a quiet "no pooping here" sign, if I spoke cat.  Even better are the smells of my new plants. Mint, lemon balm, daisies, the fresh potting soil.  For now it looks mostly like I've stacked rows of pots in the way, but eventually... eventually this little garden will look like a garden. Eventually it will be a small green place of peace.

I feel a peaceful joy tending this small patch of earth.  Watering, touching the soft green leaves.  It is small, like my new beginning here in Salem, but the Christmas cactus is about ready to bloom and the daisy has flowers.  I’m not sure what it will be come eventually, but for a beginning, it’s a hopeful one, one open to my dreams.

I come back inside to the novel.  It’s rough, newly transplanted as pieces of scene are tacked together.  It too is a small rough beginning, but I hope it will grow faster than my little patch of earth. I have, after all, been working with it for far longer.  Still, with patience, I sit down to write and edit and hope, and the same quiet joy makes me smile.

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Wasteland

By Ikiwaner (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Some days are dry.  I sit down, eager to write, but as I still and open up, all I find is sand.  The imagination feels thick, hot.  My mind rubbery.  Has creativity forsaken me?  Just yesterday she was there, covering her mouth as she laughed, whispering secrets to me.  Now she is gone.

Endless sand stretched out.  I am parched.  Alone.  I want to cry out, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me."  And yet I know, God is here, it just creativity that has disappeared.  In the stillness God smiles, a little bemused at my melodrama.  While he doesn't mind, I feel rather embarrassed, awkward, but at least my writing has finally turned to prayer.  Perhaps that was all it was every waiting for.  Perhaps it was for lack of prayer it took the Israelites forty days to cross the barren sand.

Instead of fighting it, grasping at the sand, I let it flow through my fingers, sift in my mind. I smell the hot, dry air around me.  I resign myself to this dry experience, a place of prayer.  If I spent my writing time in prayer, it is easily time well spent, isn't it?  I feel the peace, the quiet, the heat, and wait.

I don't need to wait long.  The voices come.  "You are hungry.  Get up, make some toast.  Those raisin cinnamon bagels you bought yesterday are delicious."  Or "Come now, you have orange juice in the fridge.  A quick drink will make things better."  As I ignore them, they get more insistent.  Phone calls to make, shopping to be done, floors to be vacuumed and dishes to be washed.  They clamor for my attention.

You shall not put the LORD your God to the test.

I smile, raise my hands to the keyboard, and type myself across the rippled sand.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Death, Rebirth, and the Pascal Mystery

Life is a series of deaths and rebirths. A series of lents and easters. Of winters and springs. Last Thursday was my birthday and I said goodbye to living in the Columbia River Gorge for the second time. It was a hot day, but I couldn't stay inside the lovely library or cafe where I've spent most of the last two months, not on a day of goodbye, a death, a Good Friday. So I climbed Mitchell Point Overlook. Up to the top. I sweated, my breath coming short, adrenaline pumping every time I brushed a bush wondering if this would be the time I'd get poisoned oak for the first time.

Oh, and I took two people with me.

But we lived, breathed, worked. And owned that mountain. At the top the air was crisp, the infamous wind blowing, and the sky like a huge painting, the clouds spread out in abstract puff and smears to the east and west. Up there I was alive.

And then I left.

It was glorious, the evening sun turning the water white. The twists and turns, ups and downs of the mountains. The legs of the mountain chain spreading out to give birth to Portland. Yes, I was sad, but I knew my death was necessary—so that I could be born in Salem.

It is hot and sticky here too. Cars and asphalt, cigarettes, humans of all sorts, old, young, drunk, sober, pink-haired, and dressed in sparkling slinky drag. The apartment is sticky, dirty, smelly, nowhere near as pristine as it looked on our brief tour when we picked it out. It is a hot, dark tomb, lying empty, waiting to be filled with life.

In darkening, cooling evening, I play Vivaldi and clean. Bringing to life this place, and with it my new hopes and dreams. I scrub counters and shelves, unwrap dishes. Each one is born, a dish I packed away months ago, now alive again, now in my own place once more. I stack boxes, bags, papers, shift and move the mass of stuff beneath me, and slowly the kitchen emerges, the living room, the bedroom.

Can this resurrected apartment glow with the life of the immortal Christ?

At moments I doubt it, but then that hope burns within me and I know that eventually it will be shaped, born, and live, that it will become the home I hope for. No longer will I wander like Jesus without a nest or den. As soon as I lie down, I fall peacefully asleep, for you, O Lord, bring security to my dwelling.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Tundra Moon

Flying home, the sky holds endless wonders. A pale blue tundra deepens to a fuller rich blue, blending sky and snow so where they meet is indistinguishable. Making the pink shrinking moon look flat and pixelated, pasted on the blue tundra, a stretched penny, her features grotesque but stunning, grinning up from the endless tundra, slowly sinking into the ice.  Far above her, blue-gray pales to pink-gray, yellow-gray, then beyond the glory of the eternal sky, growing more piercingly rich with the dawn.  Now the moon turns to gray, buried in snow, the tundra swallowing her whole.

To fly above the moon. To live in the eternal glory of the sapphire sky, its world of wonders, its eternal space.  The heavens. All is swallowed in light as the sun vanquishes the night for the second time this morning, leaving me breathless.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


For several hours I poke at myself. "You really ought to go walk..." Until finally between that and some reminders from the husband, I stumble out the door in a haze.  Then blue-gray mountains and white distant peaks rise up around me, and as I turn onto I-84, the Columbia spreads out below.  My spirit soars and I forget why I ever wanted to be indoors in the first place.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Tides of Life

Time flows on and blogging sort of got away from me. Yet here I am again, trying to pick it back
up. My writing hasn't expressed spiritual things recently, but I did try art again. I started small and worked up to this more complicated star, combining traditional wychinanki with religious art. I like the feel of cutting paper, the way the scissors move, the quick little sli
ces through the paper, the sound it makes. There's a meditative quality to it.

The soul here in this picture is a flower, held by Jesus and his other, with the Holy Spirit looking down it. Or that's as much iconography as I intended while making it. I wouldn't mind being able to find a bit more in it, or perhaps have the next one dig a bit deeper.

I'd like to slowly find my way back into expressing this dimension of myself in both writing and art. I have some ideas, I'd like to finish Icon, as well as write a couple of new stories I've thought of, but so far it remains hard work to bring it out. But like Teresa's garden, I must first haul water before it flows.

I've been reading a book about Teresa of Avila and the first sections of it are going over her metaphor of the soul as a garden and water as prayer. Our soul is a garden and we tend it with the water of prayer. The first stage of prayer is hauling a bucket, the next a water wheel, then diverting a river through the garden, finally rain.

Perhaps it's not only prayer, but also writing, especially if the writing is meant in prayer, to reflect my thoughts, feelings, and relationship with God. I like the image for the inspiration there behind the writing, that it too is a gift and sometimes it's work to find it, and sometimes it flows to us. If we keep tending the garden of the imagination, our novel flowers will grow and bloom.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Season of Change

Change is coming.

The woods around me speak of it, littering the trail with signs: acorns, oak apples, crisp leaves, yellowed and curled. The collector in me won't let them lie still, but must look for acorns still with their caps, or shiny fat round ones with interesting colors of yellow and brown. Even the oak apples are not safe. When I was young I used to worry they were full of bugs, but I found a couple of perfect ones.

My spirit longs for the change. I'm weary of hot summer days, of staring at my computer screen and nothing coming to mind. I need change, the Holy Spirit moving in me like a brisk fall wind, stirring me up, calling me forth.

I love Fall, a season of rich harvest, of icy mornings and hot afternoons, of tea and juice, rich with fruit and nuts and seeds, a time of nourishment and death, a time between. Fall is a season of change, and my heart longs to change with it. I want to die to my current state of lethergy, of sadness, of being mired and stagnant, and gallop across the golden grass of the hills, run through the falling leaves, sail with the "wish" seeds, bits of fluff of milkweed, blown to find new soil for their seeds.

I want, O Lord, my writing to change with me, to bring forth harvest, to blow with new life, to let things die and be reborn. I want to feel that life within me, the life that flows through the season, and flow with it, feel alive, feel young, and pour out everything within me in a glorious outpouring all of nature in preparation for a time of cold. Bless my desire for change and help me change my life to flow closer to you.