Friday, November 05, 2004
This quote echoes how I feel about writing today. Almost. I don't know that I will devote my heart to another book again. It hurts too bad when I have to kill it. :) Have a nice day.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
"O sun, stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon." So the sun stood still,
and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a man. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel! (Joshua 10:12-14, NIV)
Good news travels fast, especially to those who want least to hear it. Joshua's laps around Jericho that left it's mighty walls in ruin added to his victory over Ai and deceptive allegiance of the Gibeonites passed through the region like fire.
The king of Jerusalem wasn't having it. He decided to send a message to Joshua and to his foolish neighbors the Gibeonites who sought to align themselves with him. He called five other kings to join him before the Israelites got any other big ideas. All five were happy to oblige.
And that news traveled fast too, tumbling out of the mouths of frantic Gibeonites begging Joshua for help. "Don't let us down! Come and save us! All the hill kings are on the way to destroy us" Now I don't know what Joshua thought then, but I can imagine he thought for a second about how these people had deceived him with their old clothes and moldy bread, proclaiming that they'd come from far off when indeed they lived close by. They'd come to him falsely, but he'd given his word . . . "Don't worry. We're coming." And he did come. In fact, they marched all night to Gilgal and at the word of the Lord, the men were thrown into confusion and routed before them. (The giant hailstones didn't hurt either). That would have been victory enough for anybody else. I mean, these weren't even his people, right? Wrong. Joshua wouldn't be satisfied until he defeated every man he could. If only there was a little more daylight . . . "Lord, hold the sun up there. Don't let it go down until I'm done." And it didn't go down. For the first time, the sun hung in the sky for a full day so that one man could get the victory he'd promised, the one he'd been promised. Lord, I need a day like that today. One still sun. Some extra time to slay my dragons, do my work, love folks, love You, love myself. Some of that hail on the enemy wouldn't hurt either. Thank You for being bigger than I can understand. For doing things that have never been done, for being things I never thought You were. Thank You for refusing to be constrained to my set of commentary-coded guidelines, but rather surprising me, shocking me everyday. Thank you, Lord for the many times that You have provided one still sun. And one still Son too.
In Christ's name,
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Back in the day, when we thought love could fill the holes, a friend of mine kept an assortment of men for every occasion. I never could keep them straight. One day, she broke the categories down-- the money man (long in the tooth and in the green), the funny man (never a dull moment but he don't have a dime), the honey man (figure that out on your own) and an assortment of oddballs for emergency needs like car repairs, free dinners, homework help and of course, that who-knows-when-you'll-need-it ride to the airport.
Trying to remember all that, much less try and have relationships with that many people (although I tried my best to keep up) made me dizzy. Still, I agreed with her flawed premise, we are complicated people with a variety of needs. The cool thing? Jesus meets them all.
He's a counselor to listen to my crazies on days like today when the threadbare strap on my purse is holding up better than my brain; He's a mighty God, a warrior willing to fight my battles, a leader with hideouts in his arms and hope in his eyes, a place to crash when things get bad; He's an everlasting Father, one that always sticks around, always worries about sore throats, tummy aches, bad dates and scary stuff. On top of all that, He's a Prince, royalty, the Son of God, willing to not only mingle with such derelicts as myself, but to give his very blood, his very life too. When His reign starts, it's going to be all peace, all the time. I can even plug into that reign now if I get off the throne of my heart and let sit down.
He's the money man, the funny man, the honey man . . .
As Heather Headley would say, He's the Soul Defender of Anything I Fear/The Baby Conceiver/ the Make Me Believer/The Joy Bringer/the Love Giver/He is the Dough Increaser/the Pleasure Releaser/The Hard Knocks Knower with the Scars to Show Ya/The Night School Teacher/the Good Life Preacher/the Caretaker/the Joy Giver/the Kiss Craver . . .
And I'm so glad, 'cause you know what?
Especially not today.
So today I thank God that a child was born. That a son was given. And that after seven PM, P. Diddy, Barbara Bush, Quincy Jones and my Governor Jeb will cease and desist from calling me in five minute intervals. (They will, wont' they?) I'm thankful that there will come a day where there will be no elections, no recounts, no law suits, nothing but ever-increasing peace and a pair of shoulders strong enough to carry it off.
If you need me today, that's where I'll be, perched on His shoulders, naps against His cheek.
See you there,
Monday, November 01, 2004
Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. "Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?" he asked.
Micaiah replied, "You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room."
(1 Kings 22:23-25, NIV)
For three years, there was peace between Aram and Israel. For Ahab, that was three years too long. It was his land and today he decided to retake it. Unfortunately, Jehoshaphat, who had no business being there, happened to be in Samaria for the weekend.
"Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?" Ahab asked, tying the destiny of Judah with that of his own empire. They're all family anyway, right? That whole God of Israel thing was overrated.
Jehoshapat looked up from his buffalo wings. Nodded. "I'm down with you. Just one thing though. We need to seek the Lord on this."
There he goes with that. Better get my boys together. "Sure. Call the prophets."
Four hundred scarred men shuffle in, looking suspiciously similar to the ministers of Baal, but who's counting? God is God, right?
"Go," they shouted in a thundering chorus. "The Lord will give it into the king's hand."
Relieved, Ahab waves them off. It was good to be king, to do God's will without living it. "See?"
Jehoshapat dipped a wing in bleu cheese and made a sour face. "Ain't y'all got no, uh, REAL prophets up in here?"
Here we go.
Maybe J-Dog wasn't as stupid as Ahab thought. Well, no, he was that stupid or he wouldn't be here eating buffalo wings instead of worshipping that God of his. What does he think, he's going to change Israel or something? Make Ahab some kind of Jehovah worshipper like him? Please. It's much to late for that. And for the prophecies of fools. "There's one man who we could ask, but I can't stand him. Always hatin' on me, prophesying something bad. Never has one good word to say. Micaiah is his name, Imlah and nem's son."
Jehoshapat licks his fingers. "Don't trip on the prophet, cuz. Let's hear him."
Sure J wanted to hear him. What did he have to fear, besides maybe Ahab himself? Ahab on the other hand, had everything to lose. Everytime that fool came in the court and spouted his prophecies every word came true, making the king look like a fool. Micaiah was the only one still telling Ahab the truth about himself. Worse, sometimes, when the fool was prophesying, Ahab started seeing things, thinking things, wondering if maybe he was jacked up after all. Maybe Jezebel had it wrong--
One of the officials reached out to steady Ahab's quivering shoulders. "Are all right sir? You seem upset."
If only you knew. "I'm fine. Get the prophet."
Ahab hammered a fist into the ivory table beside him. He cut a look toward Jehoshapat before turning back to the prophet. "How many times do I have to tell you, huh? Enough with the games. Tell me what the Lord has shown you."
Micaiah threw back his shoulders, took a few steps toward the throne. "Hear the word of the LORD. I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with the host of heaven surrounding Him. They had a little meeting about you, trying to figure out who would get you to attack Ramoth Gilead and die there . . ."
One of Zedekiah's ram's horns crashed to the floor. Micaiah took another step toward the throne. "There were a lot of suggestions, but finally a spirit agreed to entice you."
"How?" Ahab spoke with a trembling voice. He gripped his throne.
"There is a lying spirit in the mouth of all your prophets. The Lord granted the spirit success. He has decreed disaster for you--"
A slap stung across Micaiah's face. Sour breath hissed across the prophet's burning cheek. "Which way did the spirit from the Lord go when he went from ME to speak to you?" The other horn hit the ground. The clang filled the hall, echoing its emptiness, though many souls filled it.
Micaiah stood still. "On the day you run and hide in your closet, you'll find out where the spirit went.
"Take him!," the king ordered. "Send him back to mayor Amnon and prince Joash. Tell them to put him in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely."
Micaiah turned back to the king as the officials drug him away. "If you ever come back safe, the LORD never spoke through me." He paused, then added the warning ringing in his heart. "Mark my words, all you people!"
Lord, thank you for the Micaiah's in my life. Give me the courage to hear them. Give me the courage to continue speaking, writing and living the visions that You give me, even when they threaten the kingdoms of others. Forgive me for the many times I've slapped Your truth away, out of fear and pride. Don't let me join forces with fools. May my ears not itch for what makes me comfortable, but for what is true.
In Jesus' name,
Friday, October 29, 2004
Sometimes, when I'm brittle, parched and every next thing looms over my head, threatening to snap me into pieces, I get still, often just for a second. It takes at least that long to tune out my droning thoughts, my thumping heart, my growling stomach, to hear the song of my heart, whispering softly in the rush of many waters.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me . . ." says the whisper as I stop fighting, stop trying to swim and allow myself to be swept upstream, pulled toward the thunder.
Toward the waterfall.
The surge of it deafens me, frightens me, thrills me. The aching emptiness, the two-drops-below-E shallow in me calls to the depths of that pool, so close but so far, just over the edge. The waves wash over my faults, my lies, my fears. I close my eyes and wait for it, this plunge into the pulsing cold, fall into the depths of Jesus . . .
"Hello, this is the RepublicanDemocraticParty with a message from JohnKerry'sUncleBarbaraBushTheThinkTankFromMars reminding you to vote early--"
I hang up the phone, try to dive, swim, anything, but it's too late. My heartbeat is the thunder now. My fears the thunder. Maybe if I can just--
"Mom! The baby bit me!"
"Honey, I'm sure he didn't. He meant to kiss you I'm sure--Baby, don't do that. Come here--"
"NOOOOOO! HE BIT MY BUTTT!"
As said butt dives in my direction, I prepare for the collision, balance the baby on my other hip, still trying to reach for my Bible. The phone rings again. I freeze. It's probably the Bush twins calling to see how my day is going. Or Al Sharpton calling with a friendly voting reminder. Still, it could be my editor . . .
"MOM! It's the dentist! Says we're supposed to be there now."
I let the butt-biter slide to the floor and check my trusty notebook. "Nope. That's tomorrow. The 27th."
Said kid laughs. "Today IS the 27th."
Blank stare. "Tell her we're on our way."
Before heading for the shower, my daughter conveys the message, hangs up the phone and shakes her head with that "and these are the people who run the world" look. For once, I'm thinking maybe she's onto something.
But then, as a lego bangs my temple, I hear it, coming from the bathroom, muted, but just enough--the sound of waves and breakers, the roar of waterfalls, the voice of God. I pause, whispering my river words.
"Praise the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me . . ."
It's just a moment, but enough. There'll be prayers in the car, I can take the Bible to the dentist--and I should really try and work on those edits too. How long will we be there?
The freakout child realizes the situation and comes wailing down the hall. "We're supposed to be at dentist? NOW? I mean how are we going to do that? We've got ballet and she's got volleyball and didn't daddy say to--"
"Find your buddy and get in the car." I have to stop her before she hyperventilates. I have no idea where she gets it from. Yeah right.
With that, I stab my toes into my shoes, sidestep Mount Fold-Me, and make up a song about fractions to sing in the car. A song about taking an empty, dirty glass and filling it a little at a time.
That friends, is pretty much how my life goes . . . on a good day. :) Still, one of my favorite authors, Lisa Samson, seems to think that some of the things I write here are deep? (the other three people who read this thing know better). LOL
I am neither deep nor wide (spiritually speaking, the hips? another matter). I'm just a manic mama trying to reach for her dreams while holding on to her famiily, her faith and her friendships. A shallow puddle on the way to the waterfall.
So come often and splash around on your way to the River of Life. Jesus will clean everything away, even the muddy remnants of me from between your toes.
... and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:2, NIV)
Wednesday, October 20, 2004
--Janis Hollowell, THE ANNUNCIATION OF FRANCESCA DUNN, William Morrow
Isn't that an amazing paragraph? I'd forgotten that I read it, but in gathering my notes from this summer when I was preparing to speak at ACRW, I found this paragraph. I think these sentences provokedthe forest you've been walking through if you've been here lately. Isn't amazing how words can sprout in the darkness of our minds, dropping roots into our souls? Wow. God is so wonderful like that.
Still though, ignore this post. LOL It's writing related. :) Several people asked for the notes of a talk I did and I promised to put them on my web site. Since my Contribute software is acting whack and I can't update my website, I'm going to post the notes from my ACRW late night conference chat here. I said a lot more than this that I can't remember and it wasn't taped, so if you were there and can think of something important that isn't on this skeleton outline, post it in the comments. :) There were also a few timed writings based on selections I read aloud. I may post them here also so you can try it if you want to. If anybody has what they wrote and want to share it, feel free to post it in the comments or send it to me and I'll post it. Oh yeah and there were bookmarks, magnets and prizes. All scriptures mentioned were read aloud by members of the group. We also had a timekeeper who "chimed" every eight minutes. If you were there and want to share what prize you got, do that too. Speaking of which I think I owe somebody one. Hmm... :) Forgive any formatting problems.
Finish the Book: 8 Minutes at a Time
I. Setting the Alarm-2 Corinthians 8:10,11
Completion, not perfection. The difference between an author and a writer? A book.
A. Get a Grip
B. Get a Goal
C. Go for it!
"This above all - ask yourself in the stillest hour of the night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple 'I must,' then build your life according to this necessity..."
--Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke
II. Minute One-READ IT!
A. The Word-Hebrews 4:12, Psalm 138:2
1. Daily devotional lists
B. Classics-get a high school reading list
C. Books inside your genre
D. Books outside your genre
E. Your prayer journal-remember God’s faithfulness
"The writer studies literature, not the world. He lives in the world; he cannot miss it. If he has ever bought a hamburger, or taken a commercial airplane flight, he spares his readers a report of his experience. He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, because that is what he will know."—Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Writing exercise: Oral excerpt and followed by eight minute freewrite
I'm no newcomer to strangeness. I've had it all my life. It's my curse and my blessing that I can smell things other people can't. Ican pick up the rotten sweetness of infection from across the street. Anger coming off a person is an acrid, mustardy thing, not unlike the odor of ants, and lying has a cloying, soapy smell that makes my mouth pleat. In the past, when social workers and do-gooders discovered my gift, they sent me to shrinks who gave me the latest antipsychotic. I tried to take them, but the drugs always made me go dead inside. Each time I ended up deciding to carry on intact, smells and all, rather than live in that pharmaceutical twilight.
–Janis Hollowell, THE ANNUNCIATION OF FRANCESCA DUNN, William Morrow
III. Minute Two-WRITE IT!- Psalm 45:1
A. Copy God’s Word
B. Draw a map of your setting
C. Journal from one character’s point of view
D. Keep a notebook handy
E. Just write and see what happens!
F. Outline the books on your keeper shelf
G. Sing your scales to find your voice. Write something!
H. Scan your outbox for gems you missed
“We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way.”—John Holt
IV. Minute Three-SAY IT!- Psalm 107:2
A. Speak God’s promises/David preached to himself
B. Read previous work aloud
C. Read dialogue aloud into the mirror
D. Sing a psalm
E. Find voice recognition software and listen to your story.
F. Books/Bible on tape or CD
G. Recite poetry
H. Practice for public readings
I. Practice pitches
"One of the strongest characteristics of genius is the power of lighting one’s own fire.”
—John W. Foster, clergyman (1770-1843)
Depressed? Stuck? Read this daily.
A Godly Writer’s Confession
I am anointed, beautiful, confident, disciplined, energetic, fearless, generous, highly-favored, intelligent, joyful, kind, loving, master of my emotions, noble, organized, patient, queenly radiant, submissive, talented, unique, virtuous, whole, x-traordinary, youthful and zealous
Yolanda Callegari Brooks Copyright 2003. Used with permission.
Or better yet, make up your own (the appendices in Write His Answer are great too)!
"A writer is like a bag lady going through life with a sack and a pointed stick collecting stuff."--Tony Hillerman
V. Minute Four-PRAY IT!-1 Thess. 5:17, Eph. 6:18
A. Prayer journal
B. Pray for your readers, editors, agents, fellow writers and favorite writers
C. Record God’s answers
D. He’s the Author and Finisher. Ask for help!
E. Get others to pray for you
F. Only one thing is needful. Choose the greater part. Sit at His feet and let Him tell you the story.
If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
VI. Minute Five-MOVE IT!-Acts 17:28
A. An active mind needs oxygen
B. Good posture and reflexes
C. Body moves, brain births
D. Not about losing weight, about gaining ideas
E. Break a sweat in 8 minutes
F. Move your mind with music
G. One song is usually around four minutes
H. Let the music play and the words pour out!
Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen. Even so does inactivity sap the vigor of the mind. -Leonardo da Vinci
VII. Minute Six-PROVE IT!-Hebrews 12:2
A. Share the work with somebody
B. Critique group/ partner?
D. Revisit the goal and make it happen!
E. Don’t bluff!
F. Check your goal. Is it SMART?
1. Specific Measurable Attainable Realistic Tangible.
2. finish draft1 by next conference or revise mss by January vs "write a book".
“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doint it.”—Joel Barker
Writing exercise #2-oral excerpt, eight minute writing
"You smell that?" she said excitedly to the back of the cabdriver's head.
"I don't smell nothzing, my cab clean, lady."
She yelled at him to stop then and she rarely yelled at people like cabdrivers, elevator operators, the ones who vacuumed the carpet at the special-needs school where she was principal. Figured she'd be working thus if Rowe's large hands hadn't rushed in and broken her fall when she'd tumbled from her heightened station in life. Told the cabdriver to stop right now, let her out, she needed to get out.
"You sure, lady? Here? That lady who tip me said I wait till you in your door."
She leaned into the cab window, whispered into the driver's face, "My aunt says if you smell butter on a foggy night you're getting ready to fall in love." She made her eyes go big, lowered her voice even more the way her aunt would do. "And if you're walking alone when you smell it-"
"Yeah? Yeah? What happen?"
Verdi didn't know the rest, when her aunt got to this part her face would glaze over in an oily sheen, she'd start fanning herself and shaking her head. Lord have mercy is all her aunt could say after that. "It's just better that's all," she said to the cabdriver as she turned and started walking toward home.
Diane McKinney Whetstone, BLUES DANCING, HarperCollins
VIII.Minute Seven-REST IT!-Genesis 2:3
A. Keep a sabbath heart
B. Don’t isolate yourself/schedule fun
C. Take a break after meeting goals,not a vacation
D. Maintain relationships while writing, reward friends and family with an “end of the book” event
“Nothing is as real as a dream. The world can change around you, but your dream will not. Responsibilities need not erase it. Duties need not obscure it. Because the dream is within you, no one can take it away.”—unknown
IX. Minute Eight-BEST IT!-I Cor. 15:58
A. You guessed it! Start all over again.
B. Assess what worked and what didn’t
C. Identify time distractors
1. no email, phone or tv until after you write? Address your weaknesses
D. Find YOUR rhythm!
E. Thank God for what He’s done
F. Messed up? Didn’t quite make it? Start over!
“You can make all the plans for the fight you want, but when the lights come up you’re left to your reflexes. If you cheated during the dark workouts of the morning, you’ll be found out under the bright lights.”—Joe Frazier
Question: Who would you rather listen to, a musical prodigy who practices when it rains or an average artist who practices daily and moves from last chair to first? Think about it. You’re asking both editors and readers to pay hard earned money for your books.
Find your rhythm and play it to THE END.
Other stuff I remember saying—
Get your family on board, pray with them about where your writing should go
figure out what motivates your family, what irritates them
Every time I get a check we all go to WalMart and everybody gets one thing, I pay my older kids for extra duties during deadlines
get DESPERATE!, let them see that you want this
ask for a book for Christmas, YOUR BOOK!
where will you be at next year’s conference?
don’t blame the editors or trends, BE a trend!
Come back next year with a full heart and open hands
come with the work done and pull somebody up with you
most people wrote two pages in 8 minutes tonight, Francine said she writes 4 pages; you can’t write like her, but you CAN write!
how long do you spend on email? Open one and write it to yourself about your BOOK
Be humble and hungry, this ain’t for the faint of heart…
there is only one YOU and somebody needs ya, get at it
Jesus will help us. He's good like that. :)
It's only eight minutes.
Don't miss it.
Not even for the world.
Off to take my own advice...
Friday, October 15, 2004
When David was told what Aiah's daughter Rizpah, Saul's concubine, had done, he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had taken them secretly from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.
They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul's father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer in behalf of the land. (2 Samuel 21:10-14, NIV)
I was talking to a friend recently and she shared a message that her sister-in-law had preached on the scriptures above. (She comes from a family of preaching folk--daddy, brother, sisters, the in laws--these people ain't no joke. LOL) My friend said that she was ready for her issues to get a proper burial, that she'd been fighting the birds back for many months and it was time. I agree. Rizpah had a hard way to go. As the concubine of an ill-tempered, often absent and perhaps even demon-afflicted King Saul, all she had was her sons and her place in the palace. Now Saul was dead, her sons gone and her already second-place womanhood defiled by Abner, who'd gone over to David and left her too. All she had in the world were the bloody, exposed corpses at her feet. And the vultures were circling. She didn't have any spears, any strength, any help. All she had was her grief, her need. And she used it. Shuffling, shouting, waving those arms who carried the burden of a too proud king, shaking those hips that had once housed his future. From October to April, she beat back the birds, with no thought to her life, no regard for the cold, the hunger. . . She'd taken a lot of things in her day, but this was too much. Until her last breath was spent, her arms no longer able to wave, her voice not able to scream, her eagle eyes couldn't see, only then would her spirit give in to her body's weakness. Through it all, she believed in God, hoped that somebody, somehow would help. Somebody with some land and a shovel and a strong back would come and put her corpses to rest. I'm feeling Rizpah today. I've been beating back birds from April to October. She waited for the rain of spring, water from heaven. This year's spring rain brought me tears. Now it's harvest time, my usual period of mourning, hurting. I'm too tired to hurt. My voice to hoarse to cry. My shoes worn through from stomping the earth beneath me, from trying to leap to the heaven above me. It's harvest time, Lord but I'm going to pretend it's a different day. A day of latter rain. I'm going to look past the black sky into the far corner to that small cloud, the breezy one that's been floating toward me lately. The cloud that Elijah saw after the drought. The cloud shaped like a man's hand. So I offer myself to you, Jesus. Me and all my mess, all my failure, all my faithlessness and disbelief. All my issues with God and men. Come to me, my King. Come to me and move my bones, still my heart. Come and give my rottenness a proper burial. Rouse my love for You, my Darling. You have stood by and held my hand, loving me through my brokenness. You did not chide me or speak. Thank you for waiting, for sprinkling me with Your Word, with Yourself. May Your Spirit move through this place like a flood.
Wednesday, October 13, 2004
" 'I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.' " (Ezekiel 17:24, NIV)
I'm on the run today, but can't seem to get away from thinking about leaves and trees. I got some beautiful tree quotes today from Bruderhof and I had to share a few of them quickly while everyone is occupied (or so I hope...)
I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it; and, though fast rooted, they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space—heaven knows how fast and far! - John Muir (Isn't that amazing? I had to read it twice.)
(Ain't it the truth? There's a book in that.)
What is sour in the house a bracing walk in the woods makes sweet. - Henry David Thoreau
Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky. We fell them and turn them into newspapers that we may record our emptiness. - Kahlil Gibran (Wow. What else can I say?) He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Psalm 1:3, NIV) (I threw this one in for good measure)
This field trip to the forest is now complete. It'll have to be. I hear an eerie silence in the other room that can only mean destruction. (Aren't I optimistic?) Anyhoo, if anybody knows what you have to do to prepare the ground for a Christmas tree you can plant in your yard after Christmas let me know. Or I can not be a slug and google it myself... LOL
Sorry for the weird format. Blogspot is playing tricks on me again. I know, I know. Typepad. One thing at a time. I haven't updated my website since June. :X Wrote a book and a proposal since then though. You can't have it all. Or in my case, you can't have much of it. Thank God that He is exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or think clause.
Have a green and glorious day . . . even if you're in the desert.
Sunday, October 10, 2004
copyright 2004 Mantle Music and Northern Heart Media
It's been a hard year/But I'm climbing out of the rubble/ These lessons are hard/ Healing changes are subtle
But every day it's Less like tearing, more like building /Less like captive, more like willing/ Less like breakdown, more like surrender/ Less like haunting, more like remember
And I feel you here/And you're picking up the pieces /Forever faithful/It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation /But you are able
And in your hands the pain and hurt/ Look less like scars and more like Character
Less like a prison, more like my room /It's less like a casket, more like a womb /Less like dying, more like transcending /Less like fear, less like an ending
And I feel you here /And you're picking up the pieces /Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation /But you are able /And in your hands the pain and hurt/ Look less like scars
Just a little while ago /I couldn't feel the power or the hope/ I couldn't cope, I couldn't feel a thing /Just a little while back I was desperate, broken, laid out, hoping
You would come /And I need you /And I want you here /And I feel you And I know you're here /And you're picking up the pieces /Forever faithful
It seemed out of my hands, a bad, bad situation /But you are able /And in your hands /the pain and hurt /Look less like scars (x3) /And more like Character
I heard this song on the radio today and cried like a baby. Don't know why... but it was cleansing. After "It's been a hard year," I just broke down.
It has been a hard year. Beautifully difficult. It started out with joy, selling books, signing contracts and then . . . well, let's just say things got tight like a bad suit. But at the sound of those lyrics, I admitted to God and myself that some of it was just pain rotten, but looking less scars and more like a bracelet, a necklace, a jagged elegant thing.
Off to CBD to order the CD, but I had to share. Sara is really becoming one of my faves in a Maggie Becker sort of way. And to think that two days ago, I was on a total Donnie McClurkin binge. What can I say? Praise opens me, beckons for me to open my reluctant rose of a heart. I want to write the way they sing. One day. I am so strange...and wonderful. Just like you. May your day, your week, be more like dancing barefooted in an open field of joy, dancing to the rhythms of grace.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Turn Me to My Yellow Leaves By William Stanley Braithwaite TURN me to my yellow leaves,
I am better satisfied;
There is something in me grieves—
That was never born, and died.
Let me be a scarlet flame
On a windy autumn morn,
I who never had a name,
Nor from breathing image born.
From the margin let me fall
Where the farthest stars sink down,
And the void consumes me,—all
In nothingness to drown.
Let me dream my dream entire,
Withered as an autumn leaf—
Let me have my vain desire,
Vain—as it is brief. --The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922.
How I long to be evergreen, staunch and determined, instead of curling in on myself, a yellowed, crunchy leaf. Though I haven't felt the wind of an Ohio fall in so many years, the cool blows through me still. It seems all my seeds, my never born, or born and gone, came to me in autumn, drew my knees up in the wake of winter. This year is no different. In spite of my favorite lipstick and and the sweet drape of my best scarf, I feel the chill, the crunchy biting soul-cold, threatening my bonefire. If not for His hands cupped 'round my small flame, for His lush grace like a carpet between my feet, I would blow away, barren of word and prayer. Thank God He is ever green. I am no such thing and once was so much worse. Saturday was the Day of Atonmenent. I didn't realize it until evening that I'd missed the whole Rosh Hoshannah hush. I'm not Jewish (just grafted in), but I seem to ebb and flow in tune with the their calendar. Especially in Fall, when yesterdays rush up around my eyes, filling my head with wide-eyed women twisting their wedding rings, and girls in tennis bracelets holding hands with their laughing fathers. And me, alone. Always alone. They'd drop me off, pick me up, but never stay. Not my friends, not my boyfriends, not my mother. Though it wasn't really "wrong", nobody wanted to bloody their hands or watch me cry, see me make for the door and come back, beg God for another chance even though there weren't any more. Watched me glisten auburn, copper, gold...and then curl up dried. Empty. Next month, my Jewell, the one who started it all will be 20. I pray for her always, hope she's wise and good, godly and strong. Pray that if I met her this side of heaven she won't be ashamed. And the others? I see them in my dreams, long and luscious with Black-eyed Susan eyes. They smile and wave, knowing that I can take that now, that inspite of my thin-veined heart and yellowed pain, I can wave back. Smile. I can't do it really, but He can. For He is always strong. Ever green.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
Saturday, September 25, 2004
Monday, September 13, 2004
Monday, September 06, 2004
Dang. That was quick, huh? So much for my solemn quietness. I got alone, preparing for the months of monastic silence and--I know this sounds really televangelistic, but bear with me--God laughed at me. For real. A deep down belly laugh, a rumbling of love, followed by, um, was that giggling? He came to me like a blanket, like a kiss and in that moment I saw it. The same thing as always. Fear. Escape. Though I'm leaving behind religion for relationship, I still crave it's corrals, safe nooks of do's and don'ts. Being here makes me feel uncertain, makes me remember what I was, what I still can be. Beautiful. Free. Honest. Unfortunately, I know these things by other names now. "Inappropriate." "Out of control." "Blunt." My wild praising, crying, writing ways have never been accepted by church people and in a last ditch effort to be good, I rejected them, too, curling my nostrils at others who dared be the woman I'd been. They're going to put her out, I'd think and turn my head, praying that she would not be broken. Not me, I said. I didn't do such things. But I did. I do. At home with my children, I twirl and dance, scream and wail, play purple tambourines and sing off key. Loud. One of my children has acquired the habit. While the rest of the youth remains silent or whispers softly, coolness in tact, she throws back her head, shouts from her heart and thinks them odd for not doing the same. I envy her that. The not knowing. I pray she won't ever know. But there, under the rumble of God's sweet laughter, his chuckling at my great concerns, I remembered that I am just a storyteller, and that even I have a story. In these years of stuffing, varnishing, filing smooth, I have not dared examine any of it. His light was too bright and besides, there was no time. No room. Fellowship takes time, trust, suffering, love. Little of that can be found in narrow church hallways or packed parking lots. And so I wrote. It was silent, safe, and consuming. I learned quickly that my kind of fire wasn't wanted, but perhaps something in the smolder had value, had power. But here is not that way. Here is the whole red-hot stinking thing. The me I once was, the me that heard grace pounding away and flocked to it, taking someone by the hand. "Hear that?" I'd say. "Girl, forget it. All of it. He loves us. It's all good." For so long though, I've been dancing alone, whispering to the skeletons of dandelions, swaying to the hush. It was so quiet that I didn't hear the scream ripping through me, until it ripped through the blogosphere. Even then, I only let the tip of it sound, though I so sought the roars of others. And so, it seems that there will be none of that convenient Jesus-doesn't-like-this running. My girls (the ones in my head) are done fighting and have decided that they'd like hear my story...and theirs. A compromise. Not easy for one such as myself. All or nothing is more my speed. But this, this book, this year, this life is something new. Something wonderful. And frightening. Pray that I will have the courage to taste it slowly, to dig deep, scraping the sides, licking the spoon. Pray that I will stay still long enough for Him to heal it all. Blessings, Mary
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades, I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness? And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility, and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular, and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence, and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth. When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument. I don't want to end up simply having visited this world. Being the bride is enough for me. The groom is too handsome to pass up. If she could muster such courage to face a dark cottage, should not I, facing an ever glory, live this way too? I want to. I try to. To be all here, all the time, bolted down in this world like a tv in a cheap hotel room. Yet, I cannot always. I am made of windows to the world invisible, one caulked with onion-thin pages and inky seas. It is that world where I twirl my truths on every side, peek beneath the belly of my beliefs. The world of make believe. It's strange, but wonderful. Virginia Hamilton was like that. One of my first wonders. One of the first times I snuggled up in a dusty library and fell in love. There had been friendships, impartings, bonds of trust and understanding. But her books, her words, went beyond that. Like the Toni's, her long, strong words sifted through my fingers. I stretched my mind to catch even a syllable. I seldom did, but I always caught something. Something crazygood. On the day Virginia died, twenty something years after our affair in the children's room, I awoke in pain, my mind ajar. I'd forgotten her. Let her behind, abandoned her. And for what? Books by grown ups who'd made up their minds about everything in order to say nothing. She was gone from me. Flown away. But only in part, for love is as strong as death. And the gift she left me, the best one, was a love, a giddy joy for books, a heart-stopping longing for libraries, a heart ever longing for the children's room.
I went to the library today, squatted down, forgot I was wearing a dress. Probably blinded some poor bloke behind me. I forget myself around so many books. I always have. It started long ago, back in a dusty corner of a library in Dayton, Ohio. It was the west side library, the black one, and I didn't go there often. I liked the smell of it though, like incense and rain. It was big and rumbling, smaller than the one downtown, but bigger too, you know? There was wood and not the flimsy kind of today, but glossy, sturdy, stood in the wind wood. My eyes tired from Roots and my head leaking Judy Blume (I'd just finished re-reading them all the day before), I sat in the corner and spied a curious book with a watercolor cover that seemed to bleed through to my hands. The writer's name was unfamiliar, but the other books with her name there was the medal, the one that I knew meant something good. Only I didn't know how good. Crazygood. The title both confused and intrigued me. The Planet of Junior Brown. I stayed there in the dark myrrh that was the children's room and flew off somewhere.
"You okay?" It was my mother, sweaty from the gym, weary from her job, but loving me with all she had.
"No." No point lying. I wasn't okay. I never would be again. I'd read Maya by then, for the first time I think. Nikki. Mari. Even Gwendolyn the Great. But somehow this hazy dazy book brought all the music in my head together. The poetry.
And so I read more of it. As much of her I as could get. Zeely, M.C. Higgins, cousins and flying folk. I come back to them as an adult amazed at the depth and complexity. Even now, my poor children cringe when I go into Virginia mode.
"Can you just read Junie B. Jones?" they say, knowing that although Junie makes me ball up and scream in laughter, there are times for other things, other words. Words that paint thoughts, jump worlds, run on clouds. Every person needs a few of those. A Blue Eye, some salt-eaters, a little sula something. Some eyes to see God. Everybody needs it. Especially me. And she prepared me for them. Greased my wings.
When Virginia died, I mourned for her. And lately, I've been mourning for her again, wondering why I never went to her, why she never came to me. (Maya just ended up somewhere I was once). She lived in Yellow Springs, from where my own grandmother sprung, and there I was dangling between Springfield and Dayton on a kite, close enough to blow her my best kiss. Why didn't I try and see her, know her? For one, I never knew she was there. In Ohio? I'd have never believed it. She certainly lived on her own planet, the planet of Junior Brown. Or perched on M.C. Higgins' pole each morning to reach the sun. Maybe she was like Zeely, six-feet-everything and towering over the world. But certainly she wasn't in Yellow Springs, loving a poet and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for her two kids, dreaming for me in the pauses. It didn't occur to my childish mind. And what would have been the point really, meeting her? I'd never be closer to her in the flesh than I was on the page. Never.
Makes me wonder some about this mess I've made here, which is turning out to be more of a sappy teenage notebook than anything. But maybe that's good. Maybe sometimes you just have to let things be. Let them live. Let them die. I let Virginia die, go from me, but she is always here, in my mind with the others, dancing across the page, scatting around the letters, doing word jazz, book blues. Maybe one day, when I'm dead yet alive, I can live on in somebody's head too.
Monday, August 30, 2004
I love the Lord's prayer. The language is so succinct, so powerful, summing up all the needs of life in the span of a few lines. Yet it's the first line that used to stumble me. The "our father." In truth, it still does. Especially on days like today. "You should never take a child away from a parent, even if it's just a fish."--Mitchell Dawson to his daughter, explaining why he didn't eat sardines, Misdemeanor That line, the one above, sliced me like a can opener, cut me open at the gut. I just finished the book the quote is pulled from, sent to me by the author, a friend I've spent the past year corresponding with but not really knowing, as evidenced by the stab of her pen. A good stab and in a very few pages. A talent for the the lean she has, one I lack. It's a short book, 134 pages. There's a 1000 pages of stuff in there though, hiding between the periods, sleeping under the commas. It got tight for me around page 100. I had to put it down. I tried to tell myself that was about savoring it (partly true) but the real deal was that it hit on some issues that live in my back room. The main clock she cleaned? The--my--inability to accept love because I'm scared I'm going to lose it. Malena (the main character) had the same root thing, the same question. "How can I love somebody when they're going to leave me?" After all, he left me. Though I hate to admit it, so much goes back to that Captain Kangaroo moment. He was there and then he was gone. I was young, so young they said it wouldn't matter. But it did. It does. He is oceans away now, but still here, always lurking at the edges of me--eyes of fire, shoulders of steel, lips full of big words and loving power. Even then, he gave me some of those words, words others thought I was too young to understand. His touch, his eyes, translated. I always understood him. It was other folks that didn't make sense. He worked hard, learned hard, loved hard. Believed little in intellect ("an American convention") and more in perseverance. In sacrifice. I inherited this passion, this dangerous wonder, the one that set him upon the altar. After days as an engineer, he sold African art to the wide-eyed people with curious, pale hands and afroed brown folk looking for a slice of her--Africa--and perhaps a piece of him. She was all of over him--me. Still is. It was the seventies. Our time. One hundred shades of brown. Even so, he was too much for them. I sat on the counter, I'm told, keeping watch over all that was his. I believe that. It must be so, for the loss of him, which to this day has never been clearly explained to me, is still keenly felt. I feel it now as God gifts me with friends of my heart, bosom friends that I prayed for, and I love them a while, then pull away. It is too good. I feel greedy to keep accepting, giving. I Wonder if there will be any left for later if I use it up now. In my heart though, I know that I must use it, take it, give it. Having many children has taught me that only loving can give birth to greater love. This loss, it makes me struggle to accept the gift that is my brick, it makes me nervous about building too tall on all that he is. All that we are. I don't want to make it too high, this love. It's already so far above my head. It might fall. Like he fell, flung far across the night from me. Flung onto another sky. He emailed me today. For the second time. I replied. More poems, the old ones, definitely 2000. It was a painful, poetic year. A wing-sprouting year. Ebo Warrior
A million nights
In my dreams
You rode on the sun
To rescue me
They tell me I am just like you
I almost believe them too
That must be why
I am an Ebo warrior too.
Why did you not take me with you?
Today at school
I met your friend
He read my name
Just like you say it
His eyes grew big
As Moon Pies
When he raved about your
Sine and cosine
I smiled and told him
I knew all about your
He looked sad then
So I told him it was okay
I have a daddy anyway
I told him all about His
Paid the fine
Walks the line
Gave His for mine
Your friend smiled
He knows Him too
Copyright Marilynn Griffith, 2000-2004.
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Aspiring to save at least the moon-juice, warmed by a thousand suns and poured into the prism between my diamond eyes, I struggled to shine. Alas, it was too late. I was opaque now and fading fast.
Plummeting, I tried to lick a rainbow from the bottom of his shoe, but he laughed, swallowed it whole. I saw a star stuck between his teeth. I leapt for it to the crescendo of shadows as he drank the dregs of my bright-eyed childhood.
He slinked away, leaving the dirge of shame churning in my ears. I tried to smother it with my virtue, shredded and impotent, but the charcoal sieved through it, staining every cell.
I crawled back to my room screaming. Go back to sleep they said. I dried my eyes and tried to scrape the night, funky and thick, from between my toes.
Eventually, I forgot my blaze and danced after midnight for fire crackers and holy water. Sometimes I saw a burning man beside me, whispering my old name.
One night He caught me exposed. Dying. He offered a hunk of flesh and a shot of blood. Incredulous and desperate, I took and ate.
To my surprise, beams of light, fat and ridiculous, shot from my face igniting into a sunrise. A mask of sooty madness crashed in seven-eighths time at my feet.
I fly now in daytime, spectrum magnificent, looking for little girls in three-pieced suits with black-stained mouths they try to scrub when no one is looking.