remember, even when you'd rather forget

I almost stayed home that afternoon. A feeling of not-quite-right gripped me, pulling me back toward bed to worry and ruminate. Instead, I rode along while my love ran errands. I filled the air with prose as he drove and the quiet focus of reading aloud calmed me.

Turns out something wasn’t right and I spent a fair amount of time in bed those days that followed. I slipped into the soul-numbing abyss of online videos, trying to forget the pain in my gut. Forgetting. I did a lot of forgetting that week. Over and over I forgot what really comforts, what really provides peace.

Ironic. The chapter of the book I’d read while my husband ran errands was all about remembering. Had I heard the words? Curled up in bed, my husband echoed them back to be sure I had. Remember. Remember and be thankful, even in the midst of pain.

It’s easier to forget. The farm wife who wrote the words reminding us to remember doesn’t deny it. Her whole story is about learning the hard work of remembering the good, writing the everyday gifts on paper with ink — a physical reminder. I used to keep a list myself, modeled after hers. My gratitude journal sits on the shelf next to old records of teenage musings.

Now that I’ve remembered, I take it out and add a few lines. I choose to find something beautiful to write down. I choose to see and take note of the gifts, and in creating a physical, black-and-white remembrance, the memories solidify.

Funny how the simple act of writing helps a thing to materialize.

cloudy with a chance of grace

We pulled up to the house, my Love and I, under a beautifully overcast sky. The air was warm with a chill breeze around the edges, and I asked him if we might take a walk instead of retreating inside to sit in front of our respective screens. He wasn’t sure. It was the sort of day that made him want to simply sit. I suggested retrieving a book and finding a bench and he agreed.

I scampered into the house and returned with One Thousand Gifts. Our honeymoon had come to an end, but we had a few chapters to read yet.

A couple of blocks later I realized I didn’t have to wait until we found our bench, so I slipped one hand around his right arm and held the book open in the other. He guided me around puddles as I read.

When we came to the bench, he spread his great coat open so that I could join him in and on it (the bench was wet). A few drops of left-over rain shook loose from the leaves overhead, spattering the spread of pages. The paper dried in time for me to turn the page.

And so we sat, my love and I, breathing freshly-washed air and absorbing grace-soaked words from almost-damp pages. I had forgotten how excellent a companion a book makes.

I must make a habit of carrying one with me.

on reading, choking, and remembering to breathe

We started reading One Thousand Gifts while on our honeymoon. Cuddled in bed, I would read aloud until tears choked up my throat and my husband would have to take over.

We started another book too — The Night Land by William Hope Hodgson. Hodgson’s voice is as unique and expressive as Ann’s, and the story is as intense in its own way, but the experience wasn’t at all the same. See, we read an eBook version of The Night Land, and as wonderful as this story is, reading from a phone screen is not nearly as beautiful as reading from a book.

The tactile sensation of turning pages and weight shifting in your hands as you near the end of the book; tattered paper cover or hardback wrapped in shiny sleeve… Why have we forgotten this joy?

We read from screens more than paper. Even if we aren’t sitting in front of computers, we have smaller versions in our pockets — or more likely in our hands.

I used to carry a book in my bag so I would always have a way to fill the moments-in-between. We don’t have moments-in-between anymore. We have filled the cracks that used to let in light and make it easier to breathe with a digital glow that is slowly suffocating us.

I feel that choke-hold when I take a walk in the fresh air and try to breathe deep. I swallow hard, trying to loosen the noose that pulls me home to check email and social media.

Next time I think I’ll take a book.

life {written in blood}

I scratch paper with pen tip
and words bleed onto the page.
A few are the right words.
Precious few.

I scratch out the wrong ones,
lines parallel like animal claw marks,
and I feel the throbbing pain.
I bleed.

I bleed more words onto page,
filling it to overflowing and then,
turning page to scratch up another,
I hesitate.

Beautiful, clean, pure white virgin paper.
How could I touch it to
make it bleed for my pleasure?
And yet…

And yet without pressure and pain
the page will remain simply itself.
It cannot create, carry, and bear
new life.

No, not without someone pressing in.
But in pressing through the pain
something can come to be —
to live!

don't fall asleep waiting for morning

Change is terribly exciting;

sometimes terrifyingly so.
I'm not one to seek it out
or embrace it when it surrounds me.
Except when I do...
Practice makes perfect,
and I've had plenty of practice these past few years.

Visiting a dozen states and living in two...
Launching a brand...
Writing a book...
...and now, getting married.

Some change is good, after all.
This recent one certainly has been:
An invitation to begin anew,
to reexamine goals and priorities,
to establish good habits
and choose to live the life I want.

It makes me ask the question: why wait?

Like the song I love that speaks of
"mercies new every morning"
and points out the fact that
"it's always morning somewhere,"
while the dawning of a new day
is a lovely time to begin a thing,
why wait?

Even if for now
all you see is darkness,
the dawn is somewhere
over the horizon.
Why wait for a perfect sunrise
when you can get a head start now?
Then, when the sun does rise,
it will illuminate the great work
you have already begun.

I'm glad I didn't wait
to write a book
until I had a publisher.
I'm glad I didn't wait
to sew a dress
until I needed a custom wedding gown.
I'm glad I didn't wait
to cook and clean
until I had my own kitchen.

I'm glad I didn't fall asleep
waiting for the morning.