Even the fish catch Steeler Nation Fever!  I saw this Steeler Fan in a Gilligan’s Restaurant in Pawleys Island on our return trip from Pittsburgh via the Myrtle Beach airport.  Each table had their own fish tank and I was very happy to watch this guy flashing the black and gold at ours after the Steelers won the day before.  I take it as a good omen with one week to go before the SuperBowl!


Free-falling into Beauty & Grace

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you,” is a mainstay quote for me that I have carried with me for more years than I could possibly remember.  It is from Psalm 143 and, in fact, the entire psalm is my adopted, personal creed, that returns to me when I need it the most.  Having these words emblazoned in my memory has helped me stay the course in my life and though I have found myself falling back on them sometimes after the fact of my weaknesses and sin, they do indeed restore me as well.  When I am afraid of free-falling into the abyss, these words (and several other quotes) lift me and instead I am free-falling into beauty and grace, coming to rest safely on the earth.

I guess flying to Pennsylvania last weekend has my head still in the clouds, enjoying the beauty of the snowy landscapes below as we flew over the Appalachian mountains, while praying for safe take-offs and landings.  It’s always amazing to me how a change of perspective can shift priorities and desires into their proper order and places.  A birds-eye view of winter, flying over what a few days before was a major snowstorm, gave me an unexpected new outlook that contrasts sharply from the warmer southern climate, grounds-eye view that has held me for too long.  I missed the snow and didn’t realize how much until I saw it from above!

But now, back on the ground in South Carolina, rested from the busy and wonderful visit with my extended family, I find myself embracing the possibilities of the coming year anew, asking myself what do I want to focus my time and energy on?  I don’t have to hesitate with the answer for I feel it clamoring from my bones…my writing!  This morning in the hours before dawn I started reading and finished a small book by Annie Dillard, “The Writing Life.”  It completely absorbed me, both scaring me and inspiring me, like flying over the snowy mountains.  Years ago I started her Pulitzer prize-winning book “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” but sadly, in the midst of child-rearing busyness, I never finished it.  Today, inspired anew by her writing I started it again, thinking if anyone can help me keep my feet on the writing path it would be her.

Her description of a mockingbird free-falling from the gutter of a four story building that she says “was an act as careless and spontaneous as the curl of a stem or the kindling of a star,” is an image, a metaphor, that leaves me catching my breath for the courage to write, to fly with words, to walk the creative path, and to cherish beauty and grace:

“The mockingbird took a single step into the air and dropped.  His wings were still folded against his sides as though he were singing from a limb and not falling, accelerating thirty-two feet per second per second, through empty air.  Just a breath before he would have been dashed to the ground, he unfurled his wings with exact, deliberate care, revealing the broad bars of white, spread his elegant, white-banded tail, and so floated onto the grass.  I had just rounded a corner when his insouciant step caught my eye; there was no one else in sight.  The fact of his free fall was like the old philosophical conundrum about the tree that falls in the forest.  The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them.  The least we can do is try to be there.”  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Forgive the Unforgiven…

Bitter words from troubled lips, icy stares from cold, dark eyes.

Hatred ‘neath a phony smile, but in your shoes I haven’t walked a mile.

Acts of violence fill the streets, trails of blood from broken hearts.

Anger seethes, brings on disease, causes aching, lonely hearts to freeze.

Forgive the unforgiven, return not their hate. 

Oh, love the unforgiven, their deeds seal their fate.

I must forgive others, as the Lord forgave me.

Cynics kill the spirit, like water on fire, flames fade.

Pride and power chain the pure but breaking free is the Spirit’s cure.

Lord, bring peace to those who fear. Bring love, warm our cold hearts.

Make the enemy a friend and grant forgiveness ever to the end.

Forgive the unforgiven, return not their hate. 

Oh, Love the unforgiven, their deeds seal their fate.

I must forgive others, as the Lord forgave me.               NFR


Resolution Rebellion

Is my rebelliousnous toward making New Year’s resolutions the sign of a middle-aged frustration with making unsuccessful change in my life?  I WANT to jump on the bandwagon, really I doooo!  I want to be healthier and wealthier and wiser, I DOOOO!  But why then does all this advice on making and KEEPING resolutions grate on my last nerve? Oh, Dr. Oz, just shut up!  First, the commercialized emphasis on living it up and INDULGING during the holidays that has bombarded me since well before Halloween by now has me rationalizing the extra cookie, the extra glass of egg nog with kahlua, the extra 5 pounds, buying an extra pair of shoes for myself, and the avoidance of taking the steps over the elevator to my office.  Now, SUDDENLY since January 2, the same folks are pushing the yoga mats up front at Wal-Mart, color-coordinated plastic storage containers to organize my life, the diet books, the vitamins, the gym memberships, and the heart-healthy check-ups we MUST have to assure our next breath.  Okay, let me say Dr. Oz, Wizard of Perfection, has definitely been promoting health conscious steps throughout this onslaught of indulgence but…Blah, Blah, Blah!

If I make any resolutions it will likely be to turn off the television, stay off FB (ok, that would be hard for me), avoid on-line newspapers, and don’t shop at Wal-Mart for a year.  I think if I IGNORE all the talk of measurable goals, disciplined actions, and reducing stress that I will indeed BE less stressed!  I have a huge book called ”1000 Ways to Simplify Your Life” but I’ve never read it because it stresses me out to even look at it!  I mean, really, if it takes some OCD author to think of a 1000 ways to simplify her life why am I even going to attempt one of them? 

Have we really lost our common sense that we need so many EXPERTS telling us how to live and we can’t think for ourselves anymore?  If I did turn off that tv and stayed off the internet newspapers I bet my culturally-induced anxiety will drop significantly to where my neck stops hurting, I pray more, I play more, I finish more novels than I start, I have time to write, I feel like connecting with nature and taking those once-loved walks.  I like the sounds of it but I’m NOT resolving to do it…I just want to enjoy each day, grateful for LIFE and appreciate the blessings and love that have been the wind beneath my flabby wings for a lifetime.

Post-Note:  Out of curiosity I pulled the huge book off the shelf and took a closer look.  It’s actually UNDER 1000 pages (858 to be exact) ”The Simplicity Reader,” three books in one, by Elaine St. James and each has 100 suggestions to: “Simplify Your Life”, “Inner Simplicity” and “Living the Simple Life”.  I’m no math whiz but that’s a total of 300 things, so if I shoot for pondering one a day I will still have 65 days left in the year to be imperfect or lazy.  Of course, I won’t implement them all (already #6 Plant a Garden has me laughing!) but I think I can manage to find something helpful (here’s one I like, #25 Turn Off the TV!) …maybe it’s time to turn off the tv and the internet and READ a book!