Living in Language Is Enough
30 May 2024 | 12:49 pm

I never got to my writing tasks yesterday.  There was some internet disruption, which I tried to troubleshoot for 45 minutes, and which cleared up suddenly, probably due to nothing I did.  Very frustrating.

Sure, I could have written some blog posts, but instead, I wrote in my offline journal, since I could be sure I wouldn't lose that writing.

And to be honest, I'm not writing as much in this strange time of not taking a class and not teaching a class.  It was an intense six weeks at the end of spring term, and it's good to take a rest from writing.  I'm trying to trust that this break is not a permanent break.

I'm doing more reading, and I'm doing more piecing together of quilt tops.  I'm doing some blogging.  I'm writing sermons.  In short, it's not like I'm just lying on the sofa watching low quality TV.

I also wonder why I feel a need to justify myself this way.  It's my inner guidance counselor voice, telling me I'm not living up to my full potential.

But let me fill my head with different voices.  In the past week, I finally picked up and finished Carl Phillips' My Trade is Mystery:  Seven Meditations from a Life in Writing.  He talks about "the silence that others call writer's block, when whatever inside us that allows us to make art falls silent, or a silence settles in around it, preventing our usual access to power, the muse, creativity, imagination" (p. 33).  He says that he prefers to see writing as invitation, and just because a writer doesn't have an invitation that needs immediate attention, it doesn't mean "we've been shunned" (p. 34).

He reframes a writer's life as one that is spent living in language, and he says, "As long as I am living in language, as I like to put it, I count it as writing" (p. 35).  So reading counts, and not necessarily just quality reading.  He even counts scrolling through a Twitter thread as reading.  He sees all of it as important:  looking up a recipe, overhearing conversation in a farmer's market, humming song lyrics (p. 36).

It's a refreshing way of looking at the writing life, and one I hope I hang onto.

Last Thoughts on Holy Trinity Sunday 2024
28 May 2024 | 11:50 am

Before we get too far away from Holy Trinity Sunday, I wanted to capture a few thoughts.  

--I wrote a blog post about various metaphors, but that was not the only high point of the day.  The experience with dry ice that happened during the transition from Sunday School to church, however, was probably the most memorable.

--We had sparser attendance, which is probably normal for a Sunday on a 3 day week-end.  But we had two new children who were visiting their relatives, who are church members.  One was the little boy that I baptized last year.  What a treat!

--When the family came up for communion, I asked the mom if the boys could have communion.  She said they could have the bread.  When I held the bread out to the older brother of the boy I baptized, he was so excited that he ate the bread right out of my hand, putting his mouth around most of my fingers.  

--Feeding bread to a small child (I'm guessing he's 3 or 4 years old) felt like an exquisite metaphor for Holy Trinity Sunday too.

--On the Saturday before Holy Trinity Sunday, I went to go fill up the car with gas.  I noticed that someone had taken out a marker and written this beside the dollar amount on the pump: "You are so worth it." At first I thought, I am worth so much more than a tank of gas. And then I continued thinking about worth and messages of support and how we are all so much more important than most of us realize.

--That, too, is a good message for Holy Trinity or for any Sunday--or any day of the week.

Memorial Day 2024
27 May 2024 | 12:19 pm

Today is Memorial Day, and through the years, I've come to realize how many different things this holiday can mean to people.  I've met people who won't celebrate it because of its roots in memorializing the Civil War Union dead.  My dad was an Air Force officer in the Reserves until he retired, so Memorial Day was personal for him.  I don't think I know anyone who was killed while on active duty, but I do want to honor those who died.  Some people I've known seem to have no inkling that the holiday has anything to do with soldiers at all--for them, it's about getting a good deal on a holiday sale or opening up the vacation home or having a cook out.

I remember feeling desperate for Memorial Day, for a day off, but during my days of working as an administrator, I was always desperate for a day off, a day off that didn't require me to use up any of my paltry allotment of vacation time.  For the past several years, Memorial Day as a three day week-end was not top of my mind.

I also know that many people don't get to have time off.  All of our grocery stores are open today, for example.  When I taught in community colleges in South Carolina, we didn't have Memorial Day off.  Our nursing students needed every scrap of time in the summer, so that holiday had to be sacrificed so that we stayed in compliance.  Or maybe it was because of the Civil War; I got different explanations. In past years, I've used the day off to catch up on grading for my online classes.  This year, my summer classes don't start for a month, so I'm not teaching at all this holiday. 

This year, I'm thinking about past years, when war seemed far away.  Could we really be at a place where peace was the norm?

This year, that doesn't seem to be the case.  This year, I'm hoping for containment of threats, for dictators to be defeated.  When I say that, I'm thinking of Putin.  This year, of course, the war in the Middle East is the one that most people are contemplating, if they are contemplating war at all.  This year, I am willing to admit how much I do not know, while trying not to dread what may be coming in the next year or two.

But let me circle back to the intent of this holiday.  On this day which has become for so many of us just an excuse to have a barbecue, let us pause to reflect and remember. If we're safe right now, let us say a prayer of gratitude. Let us remember that we've still got lots of military people serving in dangerous places.

Let us remember how often the world zooms into war. Let us pray to be preserved from those horrors.

Here's a prayer I wrote for Memorial Day:

God of comfort, on this Memorial Day, we remember those souls whom we have lost to war. We pray for those who mourn. We pray for military members who have died and been forgotten. We pray for all those sites where human blood has soaked the soil. God of Peace, on this Memorial Day, please renew in us the determination to be peacemakers. On this Memorial Day, we offer a prayer of hope that military people across the world will find themselves with no warmaking jobs to do. We offer our pleading prayers that you would plant in our leaders the seeds that will sprout into saplings of peace.

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