On Being Whole

For quite some time I have not posted and I wanted to let my readers know that–despite my silence–I am thankful for all of you. Between not doing well healthwise and writer’s block I just haven’t been able to muster up the mojo to get anything written. After talking with a wonderfully encouraging friend recently I decided to start back using baby steps: posting a quotation that I’ve run across and perhaps saying a few words about it. This way at least I’m getting over the hump of resuming posting on my always irregular basis…So, without any further ado, this Thanksgiving I just want to say how grateful I am for all my family and friends and readers and I hope to be more active again in the future. In the meantime, here are some words worth pondering…

“God did not tell us to follow Him because He needed our help, but because He knew that loving Him would make us whole.”

St. Irenaeus

Of Madeleine and Me

Happy Birthday, Madeleine L’Engle!

What a treasure it has been to grow up with her in my life. From my first experience with her—first reading A Wrinkle in Time as a youngster—to enjoying the Austins’ and O’Keefes’ lives with them—then moving on to an assortment of her adult novels (A Severed Wasp is my favorite) and the Crosswicks journals. One thing Ms. L’Engle never did was sanitize life. She presented as it is: the good, the bad, the ugly, and the excruciatingly beautiful. She also expanded my mind in ways it most definitely needed expanding, often through multiple rereads (having an addiction for reliving my favorite authors’ books).

One of my favorite of her quotes is:

“We are homesick not so much for something that was, and was lost, as for something that will be, and is to be found.”

Her words on writing are of enormous encouragement to someone who has always wanted to be a writer–starting in childhood through journal writing (which has never completely stopped, but there have been seasons of life which seemed too painful to write down) and the rare short story, the occasional poem that continued through adulthood, then a short article and book review in a small circulation magazine in my 20s. My 30s were when I had our son and was totally across the country so most of my writing was in email, although around 40 I began to wonder if maybe I could write for publication at some point, but probably not until The Teen was grown and we had finished home education.

But several years ago I realized I didn’t have to wait until an empty nester–Madeleine didn’t–and began reading writers on writing and occasionally starting a short story or collecting ideas for possible writing projects, usually non-fiction. Then I began my blog, which has been more off than on due to my health issues and family priorities and eventually, once my health got really bad, I started binge watching TV or movies because reading was too hard and writing was inconceivable. As my next birthday will be the 50th, I want to make the most of whatever’s in me, so that I can be a conduit of grace to others as she and Elizabeth Goudge, Jan Karon, Judy Christie, Patricia Sprinkle, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Agatha Christie have been to me. It most likely won’t be via fiction writing but whatever I’m supposed to do I’m committing here, on the vigil of the first Sunday of Advent–and our very last day of this liturgical year–to a new outlook.

Recently, the most affirming words I’ve read in a long time came from her journal on her 40th birthday, at a time when she was experiencing piercing pain from publisher after publisher with their rejection letters and she had fallen into such great despondency that she decided she was meant to renounce her writing. But after a day of tears and a typewriter ensconced in a shroud, she finally came to a place where she realized something profound about herself.

“I have to write. That’s the gift I’ve been given. And even if I am never, ever published again it is still what I have to do…I’m glad I made that decision about myself as writer in the moment of utter darkness in the pits, because it’s very real…It was a very real decision. And it is a decision we all have to make.”

Madeleine L’Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life, compiled by Carole F. Chase, from the chapter “The Discovery of the Vocation.”

In the response to the question, “What book changed your life?” writer Annie Dillard says:

A Wrinkle in Time saved me because it so captured the grief and sense of isolation I felt as a child. I was 8 years old when it came out, in third grade, and I believed in it–in the plot, the people and the emotional truth of their experience. This place was never a good match for me, but the book greatly diminished my sense of isolation as great books have done ever since. I must have read it a dozen times.”

From: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/books/review/anne-lamott-by-the-book.html?ref=books&_r=0

For those interested in learning more, the best website is
http://www.madeleinelengle.com/
where you can find Twitter and Facebook feeds, and a blog with unique and informative posts.

By the way, the day I found a hardcover copy of Wrinkle signed “Tesser well!” by the author was one of the most eerily joyful days of my life, as if I had connected with a writer whose books had helped me and whose words on writing always inspire me to just do it…or as Yoda would say, “Do or do not. There is no try.” And so now I’m doing just that. Thank you, Madeleine, for your honest revelations about the writing life but also thank you for writing, your contributions to your family, community, and the world at large. I look forward to meeting you one day when time has wrinkled for me and I’m no longer bound by chronos time but exist in complete kairos time.

P.S. I find it interesting that today is also C.S. Lewis’ birthday as well, another favorite author…“Coincidence? I think not!”

Join Me in Glad Adoration

Thanks to the encouragement of readers of this blog—and you know who you are!—I am rebooting my writing here as of this present moment. It has not been for lack of desire or material that the page has lain fallow. I am grateful anyone would even come back to check and see if there was any activity as sporadic as it’s been since the blog first appeared five years ago, especially during the past two and a half years, which have been especially turbulent for our family.

Today I received very good news. Among the myriad of health screenings in my life, today I had to return because of abnormal findings on the most recent one performed. Not very fun news, but I wasn’t particularly stressed after the initial shock as I then remembered I’d had a similar issue several years ago that turned out fine.

But then yesterday I started to freak out. This morning I was a wreck because I hadn’t slept well for multiple nights—hubby just returned to work this week after a lengthy medical sabbatical—and so my body clock was out of whack, among other issues. I barely got ready in time—my ride arrived on time and I still hadn’t put on my makeup or done a thing to my hair but she told me that latter looked fine (thanks to yesterday’s haircut and getting it styled so nicely—thank you, Mom!) and so I did the five minute minimal “fake up” that allows me to fake like I have my act together and we were out the door, laden with our bag of snacks and beverages—a must have for a 90 minute drive and 2-3 hour appointment—and a couple of odds and ends to keep us busy while waiting.

We alternated catching up, as my chauffeur was my dear friend who lives a little over an hour away, God bless her, and me resting—since I easily get overstimulated when stressed, even with good stress, darn it! Then there was the waiting, the poking and prodding, and finally the visit with the doctor who gave us both the All Clear news which resulted in a big high five as soon as we got shepherded out of her office and resulted in each of us joyfully texting the glad news to our chain of prayer partners.

And so now, I am reminded of the hymn I walked up the aisle to, going on 25 years ago, to marry the love of my live. I think it very appropriate for giving thanksgiving here. I’ll share the first stanza here as it’s time for me to get ready for bed after a long, but good, day. Thank you, Lord!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Join me in glad adoration!

Can I get an amen?

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