i've been reading the words of etty hillesum, slowly, since dear anne sent her to me. i'm having to read her one sentence at time, as there are none to be taken for granted.
last night's life-changing words:
"sometimes i long for a convent cell, with the sublime wisdom of centuries set out on bookshelves all along the wall and a view across the cornfields--there must be cornfields and they must wave in the breeze--and there i would immerse myself in the wisdom of the ages and in myself. then i might perhaps find peace and clarity. but that would be no great feat. it is right here, in this very place, in the here and now, that i must find them. but it is all so terribly difficult, and i feel so heavyhearted."
it's all right here.
(everything is liturgy.)
and if we're all a choir, bearing witness, then a choir master is in town tonight: patty griffin is here.
it is morning as i write. early. the cats won't let me sleep. so. i blog.
i have an hour before i have to be to work. i considered a trip to the good ol' YMCA, but i am now thinking better of it. this is more of an etty morning, and coffee, over at fido.
september 24 will be a good day. nichole nordeman's new cd will be available for the whole world to hear and it will be good.
in the meantime, access to pre-releases is a definite perk to how i make my living.
so, nichole's words have been my words this weekend; they have been a preface to all things hopeful. and, this morning, when becca preached on mustard seeds and what the kingdom of God is like, i really tried to hear. she asked us and herself: can you believe? can you BELIEVE thiiiiiiiis much that this seed can change your world? her answer: sometimes. sometimes, becca can see that the kingdom of God is like nine miners, pulled from 247 feet of darkness, early on a sunday morning. sometimes, she believes. and everything is new.
today, the kingdom of God is like vicky next to me at church.
an email from a sparrow.
it's like constance.
and a big squeeze from two-year-old jakey.
it's rachel home safely
and nichole singing holy.
(the kingdom is here.)
i've nearly abandoned poetry lately. i have not felt the rhythm of it; my life has felt too awkward, and i've been tripping over words, simply happy to get them down at all.
i found some poetry of mine that i wrote a few years ago, when i heard the drums of something like rhythm, and wrote accordingly.
i've dusted the words off for you, and thought i'd bring them to light for a little while:
Every morning, consciousness greets me
with an air of hesitance…
hopelessness links arms with cynicism
as they plot to snuff out Joy.
I tentatively breathe-
as if I had a choice in that matter.
I hold my breath to test a theory…
dizziness tells me I was right all along-
it’s all involuntary. I exhale.
And so I become aware
with each breath
that life is moving…forward…forward;
but in all this mindless motion,
does choice have a space to fill?
(freewill MUST mean more than
breathing or holding my breath.)
perpetually choosing to relinquish independence:
THIS is my Joy’s wick…
I will not resign
to fall in line
and its precepts.
Reaching beyond myself-
running red rover through hopelessness and cynicism…
THIS is freedom in the parameters of life’s
And I will not fear.
what compels candy companies to introduce "mystery flavors" into the world of fruity goodness already available? it's like throwing off an ecosystem. the good makers of starbursts have confused me with the question mark of the new, white, mango-ish flavor. and now, skittles--SKITTLES--have this same, white weirdness, and i'm near angry about it. what does it say about me that corporate candy-makers feel compelled to lure me in with a new kind of excitement? is america bored with conventional flavors and colors?
where do we go from here?
i call for reform: a return to traditional candy values.
today is a different kind of day. if i followed the mayan calendar, today would be the day out of time. but. i don't. so it is simply july 25: first day of no more summer classes.
also, today is july 25: day that vicky comes to visit.
to quote my friend sherry: it's a good day, a very good day.
but, my head is buzzing with the busyness of thought. too much thought. or maybe wrong thought. it doesn't shut up is all i know.
last night in class, i was doodling during discussion (as i always have done), and i realised: i used to draw eyes all the time. now i draw stars.
what does that say about a girl?
oh my head.
so you know, i love my sister eileen quite a lot. you too can love her (and her dreamy husband, rodger) by clicking right HERE.
no more of these have-to's. all i want to do is sit with the perfect cup of tea and you, over conversation.
(maybe i've tasted too much.)
my friend kristina has a beautiful website of her PHOTOS.
go, friends. go!
i have just returned home from california. i'm lying on my bed; my legs are still a pinkish hue, and i'm tired.
i am thinking about last saturday at laguna beach (the sunburn culprit) and climbing rocks at lowtide, barefoot, with marlei. we sat and watched the waves crash and form tiny tide pools, and we decided that the reason we love the ocean so much is because we're not in the middle of it, alone and consumed. we're held fast on a rock.
and strangely enough, i'm reminded of sarah masen's song, longing unknown:
the constant, careful longing
she is holding on to nothing
while trying to believe that there's
a second birth.
longing til you know you're not alone.
longing like your life is not your own.
longing to give everything you hold away.
so. i am lying on my bed, going through two weeks of mail. bills can wait for monday. letter from pregnant best friend, shannon, has been ripped open and digested with hearty laughter.
aunt mary helen sent me a note--as she often does--sealed with a horse sticker. the card itself is a little girl cuddled up to her horse (which looks remarkably like dakota), reading him a story called horse tales. the horse and his girl are comfortably lounging in a meadow, creekside. "i have the darndest time finding cards with horses on 'em," aunt mh always complains. i'll bet she high-fived the store clerk upon finding this gem of a card! the best part is that the horse is very into the story being read. i wonder if dakota would like me to read to him?
i received my first letter from aunt rona since uncle jack died. she still uses the labels: mr. & mrs. j.f. mccarthy, but she has crossed off the "mr. &" in black pen. i can't even fathom what that must feel like. it's too heavy a thought now, so i'm back on the rocks with marlei, contemplating the ocean. "let's stay til the sun sets," she said. and that's what we did.
hello, friends. it's 1:12 am, pacific standard time, and i have to get up at 6-ish for another day of cba. (i'm tired.)
tonight was a night of my first 5-course meal experience, as i dined in LA with my friends, marlei and helen. helen's husband happens to be the chef at a hotel with prominently displayed marble everything, and words fall short in describing the culinary glory. anne was a happy eater.
mostly, it was a night of communion, though, and i gained a deeper appreciation--if not understanding--about the power of friendship between women. it's a holy thing.
well, there is much to tell about adventures and sunburn, but since i'm so very tired, here at least is the link to my article at relevant, which was posted last night. and many thank yews to those who have sent congratulatory, encouraging words; anne lamott was right: publishing anything at all makes you all the more neurotic.
however, please read the article HERE anyway. xo.
goodnight and i miss you.
(pee ess to sparrow: thanks for the note. come home soon and share your stories. peace.)
it's that feeling like you just missed the field trip. i'm looking out my hotel window, and there go the buses: one to the dodgers vs. diamondbacks baseball game, the other to "the block": an anaheim place to go shopping.
i didn't go.
they're turning the corner now and i'm in my hotel room. alone.
it's been a long day of music and marketing, mexican food and hawaiian shirts.
there have been a few nice surprises, like getting to hear nichole sing this morning and meeting her mom. and making small talk with the new guy.
but there have been some eye-rolling, please-God-help-me-with-my-cynicism moments as well.
and now. well, the buses are gone. i hid out in my room, hoping not to get caught; hoping to write.
so. after a long day of worship cd after another being pitched like a new kind of gospel, i am alone in my room contemplating worship for my first relevant article. God, give me perspective. this is hard sometimes, even in california. my view from the window is parking lot then target then the crystal cathedral. and way behind, clouded by smog or fog or whatever it is tonight, foothills.
i look to the mountains, from whence cometh my help.
well, there's no telling what kind of blog time i'll get over yonder, there. the plane takes off tomorrow and i am not my own for the next nine days.
first: sales conference
second: cba convention.
if you're not familiar with the world of ccm, then you have no idea what kind of long days i have ahead of me. oy.
i'm hoping to get some sneaking out time with lovely friends like marlei, who is celebrating her big four-oh, cancer-free, and ccm-rockstar, nichole, whom i wish lived in nashville.
so. i am off to sunny anaheim, holding out for a date with the big mouse at some point.
i'll bring back a california back-scratcher for y'all--or at least my sister, cathy.
keep in touch. leave comments. let me know you're out there. and i'll update when i can.
until then, here is isaiah 49:15-16
i never could forget you.
see, i have engraved you
on the palms of my hands...
(love never sleeps.)
the words, like provision, always come.
keeping pen at hand. you've got to be ready for the rabbit trails...
ok. with sitemeter, it's quite easy to see where my site traffic is coming from, how long someone stays, what pages he/she looks at, et cetera. i can also tell how someone finds my blog based on another referring site. (btw, katy and sparrow: your sites have referred the most this week...) usually, folks find my blog based on someone else's link or from a link i've left while leaving a comment somewhere. however, sometimes people find me who aren't looking for me, as they do keyword searches on search engines like google or yahoo. and it is always entertaining to see what kind of keyword searches lead to me. typically it's a search for patty griffin or even hooded raincoats. however, today, someone found me based on these four words: free horse arse pics.
i don't know how to feel about this.
(this person did not stay long.)
so. if you forget my url, simply do a google search for me with the four magic words.
scary, isn't it?
susan enan is opening for tony bennett on july 7 in liverpool!!!
i'm so proud!
***end of newflash***
do you remember those nights that spring, i asked, when we walked the gravel roads in sandals on clear moon nights, having to stop every few feet to remove stones from toes? and we stared straight up at sky as we walked, arm in arm, until our necks hurt? and then we lay down, not caring about the oil stains on our backs, to get a better view?
we were consciously making the memories then; making plans for when everything would be better and we would be happy. we were on the cusp of something. we knew it.
yes, i replied tonight, as i lay down in the driveway contemplating orion's belt and all the genius astronomers i studied in physics. i remember.
[note: jenna, this blog entry goes out to you, chicken. your city says hello.]
rachel had a great idea the other day. let's go to chattanooga for the day, she said. we can peruse used bookstores and write if we want.
rachel has good ideas. we went to chattanooga today.
it's not so long a drive to chattanooga (as jenna could tell you). the sky was hot and the walls of trees were blue. we parked on the street and headed to the stores, where we spent quite a long time. it only took about five minutes for my fingers to be dusty with history. i delved into the worlds of katharine hepburn and her african queen journals, photo books of idyllic america and ireland, (as i futilely looked for o. winston link books...), and the heartwrenching poetry of anna akhmatova. for about $30, i made out incredibly well. here is the booty:
anna akhmatova: poet and prophet (an exhaustive biography/commentary/portrait)
robert benson: living prayer
helen keller: the story of my life (ok, so i was watching the e! celebrity profile episode on melissa gilbert this morning and have had helen keller on the brain, i guess...)
anne morrow lindbergh: gift from the sea (i never have read this one all the way through...)
alice munro: the love of a good woman (have you ever read her stories? whew. they all undo me...)
and the book of common prayer c. 1945. as a good episcopalian, i felt it high time to have my own copy. and this particular copy still bears the personality of its previous owner, full of book marks and bulletins (funnily enough, from a lutheran church...)
at 101 degrees, rachel and i walked the very hot streets of chattanooga, and we spit into the tennessee river from a pedestrian bridge (the world's longest, at that) just to see and hear our saliva slap the water. (it was awesome.) we had good margaritas with salt slipping down the sides of glasses.
today was a very good day. and the thick richness of words seeped into my skin, i think. i felt like i really could be a writer, especially if it means that i get to spend days in used bookstores, digging for something good, through moldy dustjackets (because the treasure is always there.)
today was a good exercise in mindfulness, really: mindfulness like practicing scales.
and i think i may participate in some mindful sleep now.
pee ess did i tell you that i somehow got a B in physics?
today, the heat feels like cellophane.
and then i come inside the obnoxiously air-conditioned building, and have to put on my jacket: summer in nashville.
anyway. a well of good thoughts and poignant words has been accumulating in that dry soul i wrote about the other day. (strange how that happens, isn't it?)
karen sent me a taize meditation this morning, and i think it is beautiful:
"God has buried your past in the heart of Christ; forget in him what assails your heart."
what doesn't assail my heart, i'm thinking, with a chuckle. (a homer simpson, "it's funny 'cos it's true" moment.)
the current cellophane days are filled with scattered thunderstorms (the chance of them is typically 80%). and, like yesterday, it is sunny across the street as you're getting soaked on the way to your car. and you see lightning strike and hear God bowling a perfect game as you sport a new sunburn. and you hydroplane, when the next lane is dry. you drive into walls of rain, like a carwash.
strange days. yet it's all real and unpredictable. and i simultaneously flinch with fear and laugh at the ridiculousness of our scattered storms, as the sky goes orange and blue. the weather channel can't keep up.
it feels like a God's-eye view of the world.
the wonders never cease.
i found a penny in the hallway, by the elevators, on my way down to the breakroom to scavenge some animal crackers.
and we had another storm.
(my windows were rolled up.)
God bless monday, when i will never have to think of physics again.
the cosmic lesson in my daily, 4 week-long, 7:30 am physics class (of which i missed one week): perfectionism is bad.
for a girl who has not seen a C since her sophomore year of highschool, high hope for a C this time is incredibly humbling.
to the final in the morning...