Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday 09/28/11

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nine Loves

  1.   Getting outside with my camera 
  2.   Creating my thangs
  3. The land up where my grandparents’ lived (the “country”)
  4. My family
  5. Time alone, solitude
  6. Sunday services at my church
  7. Reading and learning about stuff that catches my attention on the internet  
  8. Tending the fire in the fireplace in winter
  9. Rocking in my rocking chair. It soothes me. Sometimes I don’t have to be in a rocking chair to enjoy rocking-my professor friends tease me about it, one says I am “on the spectrum." I'm never really totally still, come to think of it. Even when I drive, I am making circles with my thumb on the steering wheel. . .wait, this is not the "secrets" post. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dadburn Mountains, Horizons and Never Arriving

Yeah, I know I just put this "thang" up in yesterday's post! The message is still very important to me, but there was a nagging problem with it. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bugging me. After reading this essay (go read it, I love it, isn't it the most beautiful thing?), I was able to do a better job of figuring out what it was about my words that sort of bothered me.  

The problem for me is the words “you are being made whole.” They imply that there is a place to which I will arrive which will be better than where (or who) I am now and when I have arrived there, I will be something, which to me equals something like this: if I am now broken and then eventually made whole, then I am worthy. But if I am presently broken, then I must now be an old piece of crap.

When I read, “I will not get to the mountains. I’ve been told as much, but you can’t swallow this kind of knowledge until you have some perspective,” I thought of a friend who often reminds me that we never truly arrive. And just now, in writing this, I am also reminded of my favorite quote from photographer W. Eugene Smith, “Never have I found the limits of the photographic potential. Every horizon, upon being reached, reveals another beckoning in the distance. Always, I am on the threshold.” All of these messages are hard words for me to swallow.

Oh how I have complained about always being on the threshold. How hard I have worked at trying to figure out how to arrive faster so that I can finally let go and sit down and quit struggling! And yet, here is the “why” of why I can’t put too much stock in my “message” that “though I am broken, I am being made whole.” If I am spending too much time looking forward to being made whole, then I am not spending enough time looking at the ground that is beneath my feet right now. It is as he says, “If you can’t reach the mountains, you might as well get to know the trail.” And if I am not aware of the ground that I am presently standing on, I am not living, I am wasting my travels.

Wow. Just think, if one can accept that you will not reach the mountains, or that you will not arrive, or that there will be another horizon, one can quit struggling so hard. Whoa. That is a whole 'nother level of enlightenment for me! I'll have to think some more on that one!

(I've written before about Eugene Smith's quote and what it means to me, griped about never "arriving," about always having another horizon. Check it out if you are interested: Blooming Late, It's Better Than Not Blooming At All and Walking To Paradise Garden, One Day at a Time. What a blast from the past!)

Monday, September 12, 2011


So, my little tribe of blogging buddies is participating in a challenge that asks you to list ten secrets. At first, I decided I was not going to participate, but I have been so touched by the posts I’ve read so far that I hate not to join in. I think I’ll write a little story and you can glean whatever secrets you can from what I write (it’s no secret that I sometimes make up my own rules for these things, and also no secret that I tend to keep my secrets close to my vest, which can be a good thing, as Rach pointed out, but also a bad thing.) Well, turns out, I might start my story out with a secret. . .

A few years ago, I discovered that one of the Episcopal churches in town offered a labyrinth walk about once a quarter. I’d read about them online and was very interested in going, so I went, by myself, to see what it was all about. The first time around I was extremely uncomfortable and self-conscious. But it turned out to be a good experience for me and so I returned several times. I even told my husband about it and he came along a few times. I enjoy it very much. Usually things will come up, nothing really earth shattering but I will journal about them afterwards. There is something about the atmosphere too. It is a cloth labyrinth and they have it in their gym. They usually have candles lit and a small altar and instrumental music or chants playing. This last time seemed to be Native American flute music.

The art work above is a result of something that came to me the last time I walked. Hebrews 11:1 is one of my favorite verses and it popped into my head as I was walking. And soon I was “hearing” this: “It is in this way that you, though broken, are being made whole.”  I have such a problem with turning on myself and thinking I am not good enough. I am getting better at being nice to myself but this was a very comforting thing to “hear.” I wrote it down in my journal afterwards. 

When I finished walking, and was out of the labyrinth looking back in, there was another thing I was “hearing.” I wrote it in my journal: 

Well, so, I’ve shared the secrets that I enjoy walking labyrinths and that I sometimes “hear” things while I am walking. 

There are some serious tensions in my home right now. I am fearful of our future. I'm tired. 

I wish I had some fun secrets to tell.

That is all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


I wrote an idea for a thang in my notebook, about how joy is supposed to come in the morning, and how sometimes the night lingers on for so long. Late in this morning's church service a woman came and sat beside me. I was a bit sprawled out and had to readjust to make room for her. She smiled and said "excuse me." I soon realized her husband was across the aisle. There was not so much room for them to sit together. He is the man who has been battling cancer for a couple of years. There is nothing more he can do. The cancer is in a knot on his neck and they can't stop the growth or remove it. At this point there is nothing for him to do but wait for the growth to run into that artery (the one my father just had surgery on) and for it to burst, killing him instantly. But the man keeps on living. He is not dead yet. How I admire that in him. And he says he would not trade this experience for anything, for he has learned to live, and has moved closer to God, and relationships have been healed. He has experienced a very long night. He looks gray with death but he is living until he dies. That man is free.

I hesitate now to say I want that kind of freedom, because I don't know if I am willing to pay the price. . .

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Story! Pictures! A Poem!

I used to belong to a group where we would be given a quote and we were supposed to write about the first memory that came to mind after we read the quote. We not supposed to write as though we were looking back at the memory, but rather as though we were present in the story at that moment. I sometimes struggled with that task. The group often told me it was as if I were holding myself back, like I was an observer of my own story. I was probably in fourth or fifth grade at the time this happened.

We are walking in the woods after lunch. My grandfather always seems particularly pleased when we do this. Sometimes, just the men get to go on these walks. When we ask where they are going, they always say they are going to see a man about a dog. But today, all of us are going--Mom and Dad, Paw-Paw and Granny, Linda and Timmy. Granny is finishing up in the kitchen and then we can leave.

Sometimes we go and check the hog pens to see if there are hogs in the trap. Most every time we check the fox feeder to put corn out or to see if they have eaten the corn that was left for them. Paw-Paw always has something going on in the woods. He loves the woods. He will usually point out tracks in the sand for us to see. Fox tracks, rabbit tracks, dog tracks, deer tracks, hog tracks, all kinds of tracks. He can't see that well, but he can see those tracks.

Once he cut a branch off a dogwood tree and told me if I would scrape the bark away, the branch would turn pure white, just like if it had been bleached. I saved it and took it home and scraped the bark away and sure enough, it is pure white, pure white.

Today the grownups are talking about the corner lines and about the old spring that used to be back by the creek. Paw-Paw keeps that cleared away so the water will continue to flow. I can't quite understand their fascination with the spring. It's just an old hole with water constantly coming out of the ground, like a house that never gets clean, it is always muddy around there.

I don't understand the fascination with corner markers either. We are walking through briars now, getting all scratched up. Mama and Granny, who are in their dresses, are stepping high to avoid getting their legs all scratched up. When we finally get to the corner marker, all it is is a concrete stick pocking up out of the ground. But the adults all know where these markers are, and they stand around talking about who owns the property that meets up at this marker.

There are also stories being told about how you can follow the road and cross the creek "back there" and end up at Aunt Ella's house. Thankfully, we are not going that way today. We are turning around and heading back to the house. As usually happens on these walks, they are all telling stories now.

 Daddy starts talking about how they used to bend a young sapling down and get on it like a horse and then let it go and they would "ride" the sapling. That sounds like so much fun! I'm asking if I can do that now and the grown-ups are all acting like they are not sure I can. I am wondering now if Daddy made this story up or what. Finally, after my persistent begging (I can be very persuasive, this I already know about myself), Daddy and Paw-Paw are looking for a suitable tree for me to ride.

They have found one now and both of them bend the tree over so I can get on it. I am so excited about getting to do this. I straddle across the tree and receive my last-minute instructions to hold on tight, no matter what. I can't wait for them to let go of this tree so that I can go flying through the air. I wonder what it is going to feel like. . .

Well, that was not what I expected to happen. I am on the ground with the wind knocked out of me. That has only happened to me one other time. I hate when that happens. The grown-ups are looking at me with concern and are trying to help me up. Someone is dusting off my backside. What a stir I have caused!

After a few moments, my wits are recollected and I can now breathe normally again. We are heading back to the house now, and analyzing my failure to launch. It seems my biggest problem was that I forgot to hold on tight. When the tree went up, I went down and hit the ground, hard. I probably should have bent over closer to the trunk of the tree and hugged it harder than I did. I don't much care what went wrong. I don't think I'll ever want to try that again.

And here is a poem I wrote about the day the surveyors came to survey part of the land that we were selling (after both my grandparents had died) with another look at the corner markers and the Artesian spring.

Surveying the Land

Sitting on a stump by the rippling stream,
barely a foot wider than my stride.
Just wide enough to keep me from following the procession
led by the machete wielding land surveyor, who whacks
his way through briar and thicket,
seeking the corner marker to our wood.

Were it not for the steady whack, whack, whack
of the machete and the warning caw of the crow,
I would be at peace, wooded by the shimmer of water
and the rustle of leaves, meditating on a quiet winter day.
Thoreau on his pond, Emerson in his woods. The surveyor works,
carving away a piece of my I still hold tightly in my heart.

When I was a child, my grandfather led the way on this land,
past the Artesian spring that bubbled from the ground,
stopping at each land marker as though they were sacred monuments,
testimony to places where God touched the earth,
setting boundaries on our own slice of Eden.

The sound of tree limbs being severed by a man
snatches me back to the present. Birds squawk
mournfully above my head, while the briar branch tears
flesh as I pull it idly through my hands. Looking down, I am surprised
to see blood marking the place where I released grandfather's
memory and walked away empty handed, stripped
of land that meant so much to us both.

Wordless Wednesday 09/07/11