Tarantism

Oceanic
Yonderly–
All effortless,
Suspended
Dancing peace.
Dipflow of brush,
Inkswirl of pen,
The reincarnation of emotion onto blank page;
The imperfect interpretation
Of tangled lines that tie
The head to the heart
To heliophilic soul,
Peering into eternity and yet,
Bound to the present.
The thought
The action,
And the shadows in between.

{Darkness over the surface of the deep,
And the Spirit of God hovering over the waters}

Come to the Well

Water1

 

One of my favourite Biblical encounters during Jesus’ earthly ministry is the story of the woman at the well. There are many reasons behind this, a few being His seemingly plucky disregard of social norms as He reached out to a woman whose race He was instructed by society and tradition to ignore. It was just one more way He was signifying the changes to come, excusing strict adherence to the law and direct punishment for unpardonable sins in favour of freedom and forgiveness through an indescribably difficult sacrifice.

But above all I love the symbolism of the water, the meeting at the well; a place where water is not only drawn out, but expected. You do not go to a well wondering if there will be water or not, you expect to find it, and that in abundance. There is the knowledge, though, that haunts all things on this earth; that nothing lasts forever, that scarcity is the only thing in true abundance– that all things end. It is the shadow of the invisible beast that sinks its teeth of despair into our joy.

Imagine being the one with the trail of mistakes littered behind you that have led you to sit at alone at the well of dissatisfaction. Perhaps this isn’t too hard for you to conjure—scars from the past visible enough to leave you feeling isolated, abandoned by others who would have nothing to do with you and your shortcomings. You come to the well for the water that will sustain and clean you enough to leave a temporary semblance of fulfillment. But even your time at the well is tainted and torn, because you come alone to avoid meeting those who have deserted you lest your flaws adhere to them, the irrational fears of the self-righteous hypocrites. You come to the well expecting to be alone, but meet instead the lover of your soul.

And He sees your scars; He sees the path of pain trailing in your wake. He points out your past and you turn to leave, but He begins to speak in love of a new and ageless well of the purest waters that forever run. A well you need only visit once to be fulfilled, and you see in your mind a gathering place where you are free from disgrace and not only are you filled but healed, cleaned from every stain you ever tried to hide. Your disappointment is only brief when you discover these waters cannot be consumed but by the heart and for the soul, for no sooner do you ask but you receive.

I have found myself coming to the well again and again these past several weeks, parched and exhausted, seeking hope and life—yearning for a purpose that I seem to lose the moment I wander away. Every Wednesday my sisters from Story Sessions gather to reconstruct a version of this well, a meeting place where we can bring our burdens, and pass the waters of prayer and healing. I often ask  myself why I cannot seem to stay quenched when I leave the well’s walls, but I realize that as long as we are cursed with sin we will always be in thirst. The trick is to carry the water with you and remember to drink deep, and drink often.

And so, dear reader, with your scars and mistakes and fears; you are no different as you approach this well. You’ve tried so many others- I did too- but found them lacking. But here there is water in abundance, here you pull from a source fathoms deep that will not only heal and revive, but will never run dry.

I invite you to come and forget the past in favour of the future.
To follow the streams that run even in the desert.
To know hope and love, and to know it eternally.
I invite you to drink living water and not only know life
But know it abundantly.​

 

{picture via}

Nepenthe

coffeebyjennifer
{Via Jennifer Upton}

I wish I knew why people have to leave.
In my heart of hearts I believe that goodbyes hurt because they were not meant to be. The second human created was for the purpose of mutual company and love, and was created from the very bones of the first. There is no community closer than that. We were created for perfect community, and part of that means never truly parting.

So whether it’s death or just (hopefully) temporary farewells, this breaking, this being torn asunder feels wrong because it is wrong.
And while I feel tempted to be short-tempered with myself for feeling so forlorn when these faces I’m going to miss are all souls I’ll see again, it’s important that I be reminded that I am permitted my sadness. We’ve been promised an eternity together, and I look forward to that time, but that doesn’t negate the need to grieve a bit in circumstances of prolonged absence, and I am irked when others indicate that it does. While we are allowed to hope in the future, we are also allowed to grieve a bit in the present. If we did not feel sadness, it would surely indicate that we had not felt anything in the first place.

Heaven won’t be free of tears because we don’t miss each other when we part, it will be free of tears because we will never truly part.

I’ve said so many goodbyes already this week, let alone this year, and I’m on the cusp of many more. As much as I wish I could say the contrary, I know that many of these goodbyes may be until eternity.  So while I have that hope, I also have this small animal of grief that is sitting close by, begging for attention and gazing up at me with wounded eyes. Necessary for life is the ability to sit with the grey-dog grief and allow it to be near, but not overwhelming, because it will always move on, and so will you.

And so I’ll rise and walk, and continue to do so until the darkness passes and I can see the day breaking over that far horizon, all beckoning, welcoming warmth and hues of hello.

Alexithymia

I stand at the edge of reason, the precipice of Here that lines the chasm of Unknown, and it looks and feels like old shoes, sun-warmed skin, dappled patches of light and the shadows in between. It smells and tastes like salt water and food fresh from the earth.
All that is known and undiscovered emulsified into an indistinguishable tangle of possibilities; the imagination resorts to a limbus state of ambedo, the result of a habromanic mind, and focuses on nothing but the invisible galaxies that appear in a milk-clouded coffee, and the sound of chairs scraping across the floor.
The blink of dark as eyes open and shut.
The space that links the void and the dream.
The momentary hush between the inhale and the exhalation.
I am dwelling here.

Traveling Light

Let me preface by saying that the irony of this post is not lost on me. But I felt I must share, so I will.

Today, I went on an adventure without my phone.

I speak loosely here: my “phone” is still one of those cheap slide-open tricks that sends and receives the basic texts and calls, and only barely at that. I mean more collectively the phone, the iTouch, and the iPad– any mobile device that has the capability to take pictures and to access social media.

I planned an afternoon escapade with a handful of friends. The itinerary? One thirty-minute hike through the woods to a swimming hole on the Menominee River. I woke up this morning, went about my usual business of yoga, time in the Word, food etc.

Lately God has been teaching me the importance of simplicity. At first it resembled the mantra “I do not need this therefore I will go without” but it’s metamorphosed merely into the idea of traveling light. So when I went to pack I put a towel in my bag, and the phone on the table.

And I left it there.

The hike was beautiful– leafy shade and fern-choked paths meandering up and over rocks and fallen trees that dotted the line of the gorge, dropping into the wildly rushing river not too far below. Our destination was the quiet, shallow upstream where the water merely eddies and pulls, forked in the middle by a heavily-wooded island.
It was one of those picturesque summer days. You know the one– sunny and warm with a slight breeze; the kind that keeps the sun’s rays to a light kiss rather than a hard bite. We waded and swam, catching crayfish or simply floating on our backs before climbing onto the bank, all in an effort to enjoy the uncommonly kind Wisconsin weather. The conversation was all easy banter. Anything more pressing would have to be reserved for another day when perhaps all things did not seem so kind and in accord. The hike back was equally lovely, albeit slightly more damp. All-in-all the day has resolved as pleasantly as it had begun. And I don’t need a status or a picture to prove it to anyone.

The purpose of this post isn’t to come across as anti-social-media. I posted two photos to Instagram before I left this morning, spent several minutes on Pinterest, and used Facebook to communicate with the group I was adventuring with. That’s not my point.
I merely want to point out the virtue in leaving those things behind from time to time. It’s difficult to fully enjoy an experience for yourself when you’re on the lookout for a good way to share it with the world. Social media often becomes a contest to see who can post the most picturesque details of their otherwise normal lives for the sole purpose of making others jealous. As a society we are losing the ability to enjoy experiences for ourselves. Every beautiful moment need not be imparted to the rest of the universe. There is a secret kind of joy that comes with the privacy of a special moment. It is the same aspect of private community that lends to inside jokes what makes them so fun. It’s one of those “you had to be there” instances that is no longer quite as delightful when the whole world understands and partakes in the story.

I’m sitting on my bed with horribly dirty feet, something my mother would reprimand me for soundly were she here, and river-wet, sun-dried hair that smells a little like dirt and a lot like summer. That and a pair of water-logged shoes are all I have to remind me of today’s undertakings; but I was present for every moment of the journey, and I came back to my flat with a head full of words and the way the played on the water still dancing before my eyes. And that’s all I need.

Spread the Love (Blog Tour on Writing)

I’ve been tapped by the loverly Esther Emery in a blog tour on writing and the writing life. I’m actually rather flattered that she would do so: her writing is powerful, and I’ve also been hunting for inspiration and reasons to try and kick my blogging back into gear. So here are the four questions that have been posed, and here are my answers.

What are you currently working on?

Like Esther’s mine is a list of projects that are lying higgeldy-piggledy around my mind, and some of them have made it to the bare beginnings of a word document, and one or two have actually reached the end of the rough draft/beginning of the editing stage. There are three primary projects, though.

1. I am writing a black-box theatre style play that falls under the category of “experimental” as far as conventional plays go. I’d rather not give away the plot (spoilers) especially since it’s still very much a baby. A baby that I am trying not to hate at the moment. This is a good example of a project that you start with uncontainable excitement, but absolutely loathe and avoid by the time you’re almost done with the first draft. I’m still new to the world of scriptwriting and stageplay– I collaborated with a friend on a short play earlier this year for a 24-hour competition that we ended up placing first in. That experience was enough to whet my appetite for the craft and I’ve been toying with this idea ever since. My hope is to have this baby grown up enough by August to put together a cast and have it performed- a whole other experiment in and of itself.

2. I’m writing a piece of fiction that, let me be honest, has no real direction. It started as a detailed description about a table of knives, and it’s kind of become a science/fantasy fiction about a man who fixes books. Don’t ask. I’m not sure it will ever become a book, but it’s a nice way to waste time.

3. I have a concept practically outlined that is waiting to turn into a book. I started writing it during one of my classes, and so far I have a list of characters, a plot, and even a prologue down- basically the vegetable side dish- it’s just a matter of sitting down and getting to the meat of it (pardon my food analogies– it’s almost time for lunch). It’s told more along the lines of a children’s story, so I’m hoping to illustrate it as well.

How does my project differ from others in the same genre?

Well this isn’t an easy question because all three of the projects I mentioned are in completely different genres. So I’ll go with the piece I’m closest to finishing: the play. Experimental performance has a unique ability to engage the audience on an entirely new level and present them with applicable impressions or ideas. I’m no expert, but in my limited experience of experimental theatre I see “experiment for experiment’s sake”, and little capitalization on its abundant yet often untapped potential, especially in religious circles where traditionalism is lauded. Out of the Box (for that is it’s title) is ultimately meant to challenge people’s imaginations and ask them to not only suspend their disbelief but to constantly be willing to shift their perspective. I’d like the audience to walk away with a renewed appreciation for their imaginations, or at the very least a desire to use it. It would also be nice if they were challenging perspective and imagination in spirituality as well– how they look at God and God in relation to us. That’s a little more far-fetched in the play’s current state, and it’s going to take a lot of tweaking to get it there.

Why do you write/create what you do?

I create simply because I must. It’s not so much an itching craving to toss out and arrange words as it is the constant consciousness of the ink I can feel crashing around in my veins. I’m not trying to romanticize it, it’s merely the best description. I come from a long lineage of creativity both in my immediate family and spiritually. Our creator has not only placed us in a world of artistic beauty and conception, He has fashioned us with eyes, lips, ears, hands to drink it in and fashion something by it ourselves. We have been given the capacity to ape God through our own aptitude for invention. Of the greatest of these is, perhaps, our faculty for storytelling. I enjoy theatre because it employs two different aspects of that gift- the birth of a story and then the telling that meets more of the cognitive needs for recognition and retention of the audience than had they simply sat down to read or merely listen to it. There is something about seeing a story or idea played out before your eyes by other humans in fabricated setting that somehow impacts us differently. By its very nature, experimental performance and theatre styles have more opportunities to challenge and untap that same source of understanding. The fact that each cast will interpret and emphasize different aspects each time only ensures that the stories will, in some way, always be new. (Does that answer the question?)

How does your writing/creating process work?

I find this question somewhat amusing because really? It doesn’t. I have no plan– in general I’m still new to the idea of creating in general. A couple of years ago I had a process I underwent daily to write, but that was more due to my OCD life patterns. It somehow ended up being productive, though.  I’m trying to create a disciplined way of working that has some semblance of structure to it. At the moment it looks like a lot of reading, TED talks, daydreaming, and brilliant flashes of inspiration that fizzle about two pages in or until I get hungry (whichever happens first). The pieces I’ve completed so far owe their thanks to social media blockers and considerable amounts of resolve.

I don’t have many to pass this baton on to, but I’d love to tap Mrs. Rachel Lee Haas, who is, for many reasons, why I blog at all.