Yesterday was pure magic. First it was Sunday and it felt like a sabbath. A kind of quiet day given over to prayer and introspection, rest and reflection. To reading. Early in the morning the fog was rising in the little valley but the sun there at the edge of the world at sunrise was promising. The wind had turned and was blowing in from the East. The Summer was past and it let me know that soon the wind would turn, tunnel down from the North and I could feel all these things down in my soul. That it was time to pile wood, to ready for Winter. It was the first day where it felt as if that old clock known as seasons had shifted. No more Indian Summer days that surprised us with warmth and promise. Now the wind held a chill, shook the trees that cast off their leaves by the hundreds. I watched them sweep and pile at my feet. The world on the hill was quiet. The traffic kept its peace.
Lately, I've been embracing Sunday's for reading. A curl up in bed or sit on the porch kind of day to allow myself this luxury. Not reading for work, or after work or just before bed. But reading as a center-point of the day. A spoke of a wheel. And since it is Sunday I've laid aside all types of reading and picked up a habit of reading those things that reflect or embrace a spiritual side of life. In some way. This is a wild, sweep of a description since it encompasses so much. Books like Leif Enger's Peace Like a River would fall into my Sunday category. Yesterday, I picked up Mark Richard's House of Prayer No. 2. Roy Blount, Jr. described this work as "Hot damn! and Glory Be!" and I think that is a fine assessment. I've never met Mr. Richard's but I read this book years ago when an author friend, Michael Morris was kind enough to mail it to me with a note that said - I think you will like this book. And, he was right. I like it as much the 2nd time around as I did the first and am highly recommending it to those people who are studying writing with me to add it to their library of books that lead by example.
So, I read and watched the leaves fall and said my prayers. And read a book on prayer that is meaty and in it's upteeth printing since the 1940s and it requires that I concentrate on the words. And then think about them. And then underline some and think about them some more. It's Harry Emerson Fosdick's book on The Meaning of Prayer. I picked it up in the throw away free books at McKay's when I went in to find season 3 of that very, expensive soap opera known as POLDARK for me and Mama to watch. The Poldark's have just about worn us out with their problems but we are hanging in there trying to help the story find a happy ending. Which may never be forthcoming since PBS is now on Season 4. We are almost caught up with our binge watching evenings and then we will have to return to Antique Road Show and the Golden Girls to find something to agree on until the next big thing comes along.
Last night it grew dark early. Mom had gone over to Sisters to visit, little dog Duncan had gone to the sitters and for a moment Kevin the rescue dog and I sat in the growing evening shadows as I read House of Prayer No. 2 and the house was still and silent. The rain had started and was steady, the wind still shaking the branches, raining down in gusts acorns that are golf ball size and clack, clack, clack against the roof. The birds defied the wind and clung to the feeders eating as they were spun around and around and around. There was a kind of peace that defies the stress that so easily besets us these days. On every level.
For a few moments I quit worrying about things and was just a reading woman, sitting by an empty fireplace. I kept looking up from the page knowing that soon and very, soon I'd be layering log upon log, smoking up the old house in such a way that everything in it including me will smell like wood smoke until Spring. So be it. Seasons come and seasons go. And my soul is learning to rest in this knowledge and to count my blessings.
Today's facebook post was specifically designed for Monday's. If you don't follow or friend yet I hope you will. I realize that there seems to be a world of people out there all in the same boat, trying to keep hope afloat without realizing we are not alone. That we are on this journey together and remembering to be that to each other, fellow travelers, helps lighten our load.
If you haven't signed up for my newsletter on the homepage I hope you will join me there. In the meantime, may your week be bountiful in grace and mercy and all good things.
(Note to reader. These blogs are written for your pleasure and to keep the well of words pumping. They are not proofed, corrected, or improved. Read at Your Own Risk. Comma queen buddies - you might as well go ahead and faint now.)
35,000 feet plus some.
My head against the window watching the clouds from the last seat. rear seat. last seat tot the left. corner pocket. No transfer, no connect. I’m rushing into a three hour seat and wait for the right shuttle bus to carry me to another shuttle bus bound for Anacortes where I’ll sit and wait again for the San Juan islands ferry that will eventually land me into the waiting arms the amazing musical genius of, Susan Osborn and Orcas Island.
I’m no newbie to this. It’s my third rodeo for this gathering which readily explains that box of red wine traveling in my suitcase. A long across the entire country travel in a day can be rusty work. And overtired is trouble. It's where the gremlins of regret snatch and bite and find their entrance to worry my mind to hell and back. AT some eventual night's landing I'm planning to raise a boxed glass to God and celebrate the Kindlings tribe. The gremlins can take a hike.
This is a journey I planned to fast and pray for. Very specifically. As the Kindlings enter a new season with the founders if not stepping down trying to step aside there are questions about what does the future look like when the pure Divine magical inspiration and talent of Dick Staub and Nigel Goodman have brought the Kindlings to life (a serious nod to the time of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and their group hanging in the pub, drinking and discussing God and literature and faith in such a passionate way that the pub stayed packed with people simply trying to get close enough to overhear the conversation.
Turbulence. Seat Belts. No one get up. The plane shifts sideways, rides pockets of unseen air in a blue sky, rattles, hushes passengers.
I didn’t fast. Not alcohol. Or sugar. Not sweets. Or meat. Or movies. Nothing. However - prayed I did. In my passing thoughts, in my love and concern and care for this group that has consequentially touched my life. Who remain my tribe.
Then there was that whisper of spirit, those words of wisdom that surface that some of us attribute to God and some of us attribute to the Holy Ghost, and some of us to the Universe, the all-knowing collective consciousness, our ancient ancestors. The bottom line is when wisdom speaks there is a cool confidence. An all knowing. A spot on, you can bet on the race, take it to the bank - sure thing.
Wisdom sounds like clear, cool water. It makes crystal sense immediately. That voice said - Perhaps the journey is a prayer.
Leaving Nashville this morning, getting on a long flight to Seattle, waiting for hours for the shuttle to Anacortes, then waiting at the Ferry for the right ferry and after an hour on the ferry finally arriving ‘on island’ is indeed a type of pilgrimage. It is a trip that requires determination, patience, fortitude. A touch of adventure and a willingness to ride the raw air rattling us again so that words lose focus. Some clutch arms. Some read on. I’ve fallen asleep in the most notorious of storms somewhere out from Denver. I am untroubled by turbulence. In the air. Totally - unmoved. Beyond reason. Something in me leans in to flight. Soars my heart, clings to the landscape of clouds against blue. Of the earth quilted softly below in a grand scheming pattern that says, Hey now, we’ve got this. The roads all lead home.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been praying on planes for so long that I’ve casted a karma net of good vibes no matter. But this thing I do. I get on the plane. I sit by a window. And as the plane lifts, breaks the bond of gravity I pray for the safety of the destinies it holds. All those lives, all those stories. That their absolute purpose be fulfilled. It’s just what I do.
A thousand years ago my mother and sister saw me off to a small connector flight from Tallahassee to Ft. Lauderdale. Something about the plane didn’t bode well. Walking toward it I almost turned around, found another flight. Later I would discover that my mother and sister were standing watching me board and had that same sinking, pinched feeling that all was not well.
We prepared for take off as I considered my options, of causing a scene and asking for the door to be opened so that I could get off. Then the plane began to taxi the runway and pick up speed. Too late, I thought. Too late, I knew. Then - perhaps for the first time in my flying life as the plane picked up speed faster and faster - and just as the plane was lifting off, I said a prayer for everyone on that plane just as an explosion hit outside the window, the wheels were just lifting off and came slamming back down to the runway, people screamed. It’s a gut reaction. The plane began to taxi sideways backing down. Firetrucks came screaming out and we were calmly deplaned. Somehow a tire had exploded and sent pieces into an engine causing a shuffle of hushed chaos.
Waiting to get off as the firetrucks hosed down the engine, my seat-mate said, “Someone was sure saying their prayers.”
“I was.” Quietly, confident. Sure as a fast dog, a good bet. Crystal clear. There might have been fifty people praying on that plane but the prayer I felt was mine. There was something about that moment, something bold and sacrificial, visceral and passionate, something bigger than I am. Full of more compassion and love than I posses. I assure you.
We boarded the next plane. Same assigned seats. The man turned to me before take off and asked, “So, how’s this one.”
“It’s all good,” I told him and closed my eyes. “We’re all good.”
That night was so long ago that I was not yet a mother, not published, not broken, not rebuilt, not so many things.
Years of blessings and times of trouble. Bouncing, jostling life turbulence that threatened to crack me to pieces. But sometimes the faith I have in reaching my final destination finds me right where I’m standing. At sea level looking out to the horizon and in spite of everything still believing in destiny. In the Divine. In a wild sort of rise above, beat beyond defy the odds. Even down at that brown, broken ground level I'll still choose to cling to the expectation of my life.
Have just returned from one of those places that friends and I call 'the Thin places'. Places where design and prayer and purpose have collided to create a space where touching the hem of the Divine seems so very, easy. And, God knows, we need those spots because life has become so crowded, so noisy, so crazy, that we can't hear ourselves when we speak much less the whisper of the Lord.
Granted, it takes some work to get there. Think about it. It takes work to get to the store, to carve out space to go to a park, to wrestle your to-do lists out of your way so that you can walk right out your front door for a walk to be alone with your thoughts and the righteous wind.
Nevertheless, do it. Just do it. Do it. And, I say again, do it.
Part the red seas if you please to make room in your life for such as this. For three days or a week at Laity or a place like it. Although, at the moment I'm having a bit of a 'like it' block. If you check Laity's website and their schedule you'll discover a wide variety of renewal type retreats from centering prayer to discussion on the creativity and the arts, retreats for men, for women, for kids (see camps and family camp). And the kind of permission to rest that only comes from people being willing to trust God to work things out with people in their time and trust people to have sense enough to know if they need a nap in their room with a good book, art class, or a hike.
I was honored to be one of the speakers at this weeks women's retreat (Ronda Lowry was the other speaker who is a long standing visitor to Laity) and enjoyed the fact that although they had brought me in to speak, they gave me permission to rest, to reflect, to wander and to be myself. To actually retreat in the middle of my 'working' if you will. Sad thing is - If I hadn't been booked to speak I wouldn't have taken that time I so desperately needed. But, I was.
So, I did.
I watched a talent show which included a very, special golden girl dedicating a tap-dance to me. Now, you can't get that just anywhere. And, it was a special gift based on my story of losing a 3rd grade talent show to a girl tap dancing in a tutu. Things come full circle.
I visited the library and plucked my favorites from the shelves, reading in amazement of the authors who had visited before me. Who had found their muse at Laity. I gathered stacked of books from the bookstore where they - get this - let you borrow a book or buy a book. I stuck my feet in the beautiful blue hole springs, made new friends for life, listened to, no lost myself completely in, an Ashley Cleveland concert, and walked out in the dark under the stars to the special installation known as the Threshold where I lay on the stone and looked up at the sky watching shooting stars.
Most importantly, I came back renewed. Refreshed. Down right - Resurrected.
I got up this morning and put on Ashley's cd God Don't Never Change, (think traditional black gospel, rock, blues. Think four-time grammy award winner) And then . . .
Thanks so much for reading, liking and sharing with friends.