I said goodbye to this dear lady today. She was the best kind of cat to have on a farm, sweet and cuddly but also courageous. More than anything, she was my friend. I will miss her.
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A while back, I re-read a book called WALKING ON WATER by one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L’Engle.
In it, L’Engle talks about how faith and art are often connected.
She says, “When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist. When the work takes over, the artist listens and is able to get out of the way, to not interfere. The great paradox, though, is that before the artist can listen, he must work.” She goes on to explain that the principal part of faith is patience, and that this applies to art of all disciplines. “We must work every day whether we feel like it or not,” she says, “otherwise, when it comes time to get out of the way and listen to the work, we will not be able to heed it.”
Wise words – about a writer’s work ethic, belief in the work he or she is doing, and belief in the process of creating.
Another point L’Engle makes is that if the reader cannot create a book along with the writer, the book will never come to life. She says that stories, no matter how simple, can be vehicles of truth, and that stories are able to help us become more whole. “We do not judge great art,” she explains. “It judges us.”
“We are too busy to be quiet and listen,” she says, “to see our creative attempts as a reflection of the Creator of the universe. All true art is incarnational. The artist is a servant who is willing to be a birth-giver.”
Doing the work daily is difficult. It’s easy to be discouraged and wander. Or completely run away. But perseverance pays off. And we learn something about ourselves in the process.
Perseverance. Taking time to listen. Faith in the art we create. I’m telling myself these things as I get back to my writing.
It’s time for my annual fall post. No poem this year, for this 2020 place we’re in. Just a picture and maybe some quiet remembrances of fall seasons past, when life didn’t feel so difficult. And after, I’m going to sit on my front porch and watch the leaves drift to the ground and breathe in the cooler air and drink a cup of tea.
Oh, the plums. The sweet, bright taste of plums. William Carlos Williams said it so well in his poem This is Just to Say:
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
We picked these from a tree in our backyard. It was astonishing how quickly they ripened. Green one day, a deep purple red the next. Mother Nature is truly amazing. And now, we have our own plums…waiting in the icebox.
I missed saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming in the new one, so I’ll just say hope your Christmas was wonderful and…Happy New Year!
And if you haven’t watched ‘The Failurist’ TED talk by Marcus Zusak, you should. Here’s the link.
I can’t believe Thanksgiving is already here. Where has this year gone?
I am grateful for so many things. But, sometimes, my ‘gratitude attitude’ could use a little work. Well, a lot of work. However, I’m reminded of things larger and greater than the tiny dot of me when I look up into the stars at night.
Looking up…it’s a good thing to do.
“When I was a small child, visiting my grandmother at her beach cottage, I used to go down the winding stairs without touching them. This was a special joy to me. I think I went up the regular way, but I came down without touching. Perhaps it was because I was so used to thinking things over in solitude that it never occurred to me to tell anybody about this marvelous thing, and because I never told it, nobody told me it was impossible.”
From Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle
Everyone has them, even those who don’t think they do. Did you know that, ahem, according to a medically reviewed website, we spend an average of two hours a night dreaming, which supposedly adds up to six years of our lives? This seems pretty amazing to me. And a little disturbing.
Some fascinating inventions have been inspired by dreams (Elias Howe’s sewing machine and Mendeleyev’s periodic table, for instance). And many stories have sprung from dreams (Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, for one).
According to those who study sleep habits and dreaming, dreams are simply thinking in a more intuitive state. Parts of the brain sit back to let others take charge. Our daily experiences combine with information from past memories and create interesting results. Sometimes really interesting results.
Why do we dream? No one really knows. But can dreams help us dwell in possibility? Maybe.
Here’s one of my favorite children’s poems about dreaming.
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod
by Eugene Field
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe–
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
“Where are you going, and what do you wish?”
The old moon asked of the three.
“We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!”
The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea–
“Now cast your nets wherever you wish–
Never afeard are we!”
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam–
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
‘T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought t’ was a dream they’d dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea–
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one’s trundle-bed,
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Picture source: Capadia Designs
We spent the past four days with family in a cabin in the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma. The weather was perfect, the autumn colors grand. We took trail rides and told ghost stories and had more than a few fishing mishaps with leaky waders in the chilly waters of the Mountain Fork River. But something happened at the end of our stay. I won’t go into it here – it basically involved a restaurant, but I’m wondering how this trip will be remembered now. It reminds me of the saying, “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” These are great words to consider while doing the business of daily living. But it’s also something to be mindful of when writing.
In telling a story, what feeling does the writer want to leave with the reader? How does what happened at the end shape the perception of the whole?
For me, I want stories that end with a feeling of hope. What do I mean by hope? Katherine Paterson says, “Hope is more than happiness. It is sticking to reality and also to a dream.” I agree. Give me reality but also, the dream.
Here’s a fun aside regarding reactions to finishing books.