There’s an old Taoist story about a farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbors on hearing this came to him and said, sympathetically, “Such bad luck!”
“We’ll see,” the farmer replied.
The next day the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “So wonderful!” the neighbors exclaimed.
“We’ll see,” the farmer said.
Then the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown off, and broke his leg. The neighbors offered their sympathy for his misfortune. (more…)
The journal is a writer’s compost bin. It’s tucked out back, behind the fence or along the alley where the smell won’t waft into the kitchen and the fruit flies won’t irritate the gardeners. You add to it daily, or at least whenever you’ve got a heaping bucket of scraps (read: baggage) to unload.
Compost works best if you add equal amounts of “green” (grass, veggie bits) and “brown” (leaves). An occasional sprinkle of ash helps. Regular water and air speed up the decomposition, so it’s good to give it a stir. Likewise with the journal, which can be a dumping ground—and worthwhile as such—but with a smallest amount of intention grows fertile. How? (more…)
Jim was a thoughtful, retired pastor who came to me for writing support. Because of prolonged wheelchair use, a wound had appeared at his sacrum that proved difficult to heal and challenging to his faith. Jim wrote personal essays about the struggle while enduring multiple surgeries and long periods of immobility.
Then his project stalled. He had expected the wound to close and provide neat closure to his essays. When it didn’t, he couldn’t finish his essays.
I told Jim (rather crassly) that a physical healing would be a clichéd ending to his story. (more…)
Your primary job as an artist is to seduce other people into paying attention. You are not creating anything new; you are re-creating what already exists so that people will recognize it and deal with it. You describe activities and name states of being so that the people who witness your work will have a fuller vocabulary for their own life. You help people see what has been in front of them all along. You help them remember what has been buried so deep that they couldn’t find it on their own. You enable them to see themselves a little more clearly. –Vintia Hampton Wright, The Soul Tells a Story
During 2016 I arrived at surprising clarity about my spiritual path: I’m a contemplative, albeit one who walks her daughter to school in the morning, struggles with a perpetually cluttered house, and writes as my primary practice. To contemplate is to stand in the temple. The world with its dirty socks and hidden cruelties and winter sunrises is my temple. I stand in it when I pay attention. (more…)