30 January 2006

Spring in January

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.
~ J.M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.
~Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973

Today is glorious, but exceedingly odd ~ even for a January in Virginia. The Sunday sky promises snow, but deliveres billowy white clouds instead, the temperature hovering around 58 degrees. Southern to the core I may be, but I still like to have snow in January!

As is my usual custom, I walk the property line, my footprints becoming squishy little bogs that filled up with water as I pass. Stopping by the old barn to survey the meadows and count how many of the neighbor’s cows had broken through the barbed wire fence, a slight yet strong breeze reaches playfully for wisps of my hair that have escaped their silver prison.

I close my eyes as the sweet smell of wet hay washes over me. In an instant, I am taken back in time. The sensations and emotions are so real, I fancy I feel a younger version of myself run breathlessly past, long hair full of hay and mouth stained purple with blackberries. I turn around, keeping my eyes closed, half expecting to open them and see the old swing set restored to its place between two ancient maples, the gardens newly plowed and ready for the first planting and a litter of lab or German shepherd puppies, their eyes only just beginning to open. I can almost hear tatus working away in his workshop and mom calling for my sisters and me to come help shuck corn for supper and snap green beans for canning.

The breeze dies down and the moment is gone. I open my eyes. The swing set departed while my sisters were still small, the blackberries disappeared years ago, the gardens made way for Christmas trees that are now a full grown forest. And tatus and mom are not as strong as they were and a little more careworn. So much has changed, but family and land remain just as beautiful.
I tuck the moment away and head back towards the house, my senses and memory refreshed and restored.
Oremus pro invicem,

23 January 2006

Deadlines v. Doubt

I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go flying by.
~ Douglas Adams

Deadlines. I have a love/hate relationship with them. Sometimes, the closer they get, the more the fires of creativity burn the Muse to a writing frenzy. I love deadlines. Other times, they freeze the ink in my veins and not one coherent paragraph comes out. I hate deadlines.

But perhaps deadlines are merely the symptom and not the disease. Perhaps it is more fear that has the power to still the pen in my hand and freeze the ink in my veins. Fear that I will not write anything worth reading. Fear that I am just fooling myself that I can write. Fear that once I submit my work, the editor, in a voice straight out of His Girl Friday, will say: “Kid, put away your pen and ink and take up plumbing. You’ll never be a writer.”

But I am a writer. I cannot not write. So what is there to be afraid of? If I do not write out of fear that I cannot write anything good, than nothing gets written and no one will ever know, most of all myself! But if I write, and revise and revise and revise again ~ then I have got something to work with. As do my editors.

Speaking of which, I heard from one of them today. Asking me where my essay was. It’s here. In my head. Simmering. This does not help my editor. She cannot read the essay in my head. Ergo ~ I must put it on paper. How mundane!

Oremus pro invicem,

17 January 2006

A Perfect Seven

It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.
~ Jane Austen
I promised a little explanation as to my newest composition, Seven and some of you have been nagging me to post about it. So here it is.

A while back, some girlfriends and I were chatting about ~ what else? ~ marriage in general and men in particular. After each of us listed our “perfect ten” (i.e. things like a strong faith, understanding, kindness and for some of us, earthiness) the question was asked, “Well, if that is a perfect ten, then what constitutes a seven?” At what point does one draw the line and say ~ I could never be happy married to someone who did not do X or does not have quality Y.

You might be tempted to think that we had had one too many margaritas (wait ~ is there such a thing?!) But we had all been betrayed or hurt in past relationships and these questions helped us to move beyond emotion and see what were essential qualities that under no circumstances should be compromised on and what were non-essentials that could be sacrificed. More than half of us had given in on certain non-essentials and essentials for the sake of “love” and peace. What most of us ended up with was a shadow of ourselves and with a person we no longer respected. We had settled for something less than we were capable of and had accepted treatment that we didn’t deserve.

Out of this conversation, came Seven ~ a song about fighting against falling in love with someone who doesn’t necessarily fit the mold of one’s ideal:
Though you’re not the one
I still come undone;
I can’t stop myself from falling.*
The singer is cautious, and questions whether what she is feeling is “love or loneliness” recognizing that “both are dangerous.” In the end however, she realizes that this person has many essential qualities and that perhaps he fits her best. He has proven himself a worthy match:
Nothing left unspoken;
Only the love in your eyes,
And your word unbroken.*

A “perfect seven” therefore, is someone unexpected. Someone that you never considered to balance you and suit you as a spouse. But since they have proven themselves worthy of your hand and their love has been tested, then they are better for you than any ten could be.

And no, I am not going to write a post defining exactly what I mean by earthiness. Only a perfect seven would know. ;o)
Oremus pro invicem,
*© 2006 Silver Scroll Productions

11 January 2006

The Year of Joy

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine
the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
~ Kahlil Gibran

For the past several years, it has become my habit to name the year when I begin a new spiritual journal ~ either with a virtue I wish to acquire or how I hope the year will unfold. 2000 was the Year of Grace…and so it was. 2004 was the Year of Hope…and so it was. This is not to say that I did not experience sadness, despair or intense suffering during that time ~ no year is without suffering and drama. Quite honestly, I think it would be boring if it were otherwise.

Each year brings with it new opportunities and moments for thanksgiving and creativity and yes, joy amidst deep pain. I believe it was Lord Byron who said that “a man can see further through a tear than a telescope.” I know that is true. Some of my best writing and composing has been born in times of great suffering. Perhaps it is because at that moment, you are defenseless and vulnerable. And vulnerability is a great Muse.

This means however, that one cannot simply endure the pain nor wallow in it for it’s own sake. Either falls short of the mark and does not stroke creativity. Rather, we should strive to embrace suffering through love ~ thus giving it meaning and taking away a good portion of the sting. And that means acquiring a good amount of joy in your life. Joy has nothing to do with monetary wealth or material possessions. You have joy if you can take pleasure in the small gifts that life is always dropping along the path: a moment shared with close friends; laughing until your sides hurt; freshly cut grass; the sound of cows mooing in the distance; the call of a whippoorwill; children’s voices; a Pre-Raphaelite painting; crème brulee (you know food was going to be in there somewhere!). The list could go on and each of us has a different one.

I have great hopes and dreams for this year ~ especially in terms of my family and friends (spending more time with them), my vocation (“I’m waiting!!”*) and my gifts (going back into the studio and finally getting published!)

This is the Year of Joy. I pray that it is joy-filled for you as well. Tomorrow I really will tell you about Seven. ;o)

*It is inconceivable if you did not get this quote!*

Oremus pro invicem,