Nov 1 2010

Word Whisperer

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I worry this morning that pursuing a contemplative life is merely a mask for my own lack of stamina, my inability to exist joyfully at the full throttle pace of this society.

“You could accomplish so much more…” promises a familiar inner voice.

So I take off the mask and pray with Paul, “Lord, may your power be made perfect in weakness.”

Outside, the hummingbirds buzz among the bare branches and finches do leaf impersonations, occasionally fluttering the rain off their wings, and I know if I went fast or did more at once, I would not see them. I might miss them completely, and never know what I was missing, this sharing of a quiet dawn with the rain, birds, the grey cloudy city in the distance.

And so again I choose to do one task at a time, listen to one story at a time, write one word at a time and let the sentences come.

Words and stories are timid creatures. They often skamper away under the pressure to reveal too much, too fast.  So I whisper to them and wait.

In gratitude for slowing down…

Hearing the different rhythms of rain on the roof

A roof and warmth, things I forget to appreciate when life goes too fast

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Birds and other creatures that visit my balcony

Friends who saw me walking and slowed down, giving me a ride to church

Unrushed conversation twice around Green Lake

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Seeing a Great Heron asleep in a tree! (Opps! I woke him up!)

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Noticing rain drops on flowers that looking like ballerinas

Hours of games with adult-friends and kid-friends

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Drinking in the brilliance of autumn

Space to weep over the pain in young adult lives and to pray, “Lord, have mercy!” (Currently reading Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults)

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Celebrating a 4th birthday with my beautiful blue-eyed friend

Smiling at people while out walking, and seeing their face become as bright as the sun

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Oct 19 2010

Stories

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Sun is streaming through the windows as I wait for the first hummingbird to taste test the new batch of sugar syrup. Earlier, I watched as one by one they hovered around the space where the feeder should be, then checking the wider area, “Maybe its lower now or over here closer to the plants.” Some nuz the purple ribbon holding the glass spiral my friend Holly gave me, hoping for sweetness from something so like a delicate flower.

Soon the leaves will fall and reveal more of Queen Anne hill and the trains. The weather changed overnight, it seems, from balmy fall to crisp winter. I woke this morning to fog erasing all evidence of the city, diffusing the light, and muffling the industry. The smell of brown leaves reminds me that All Hallowed’s Eve comes soon. No need to decorate, the spiders have set up house in every bush, between poles and rails, their nets glistening with dew each morning.

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Stories. Little snippets of life.

On Sunday afternoon, my friend Kelly gave me the gift of time and beauty, taking me to the Kabota Gardens. What was once the landscaping of an family estate and business now is a Japanese-American park gifted to the city. Trees of every variety, rocks rising up from the earth, a little copse of pine, narrow paths into secret sanctuaries, hydrangea blues and pinks, autumn reds, and water. We wandered upwards, following a rivulet, delightful as it rushed and gurgled and swooshed over rocks and under bridges, to a waterfall with fuchsia-blooming moss lining its spillway. On most likely the last sunny warm day, we wandered and talked, sharing stories and enjoying the visual story of the garden.

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I have been reading author Rumer Godden’s memoir of her writing life from 1945 to 1985. For all the fantasy and mystery novels , literary classics and theology tomes I’ve read, never have I been so taken by non-fiction, nor so delighted by the gift of story-telling. I’m mere pages from the end and find that I’m reading more slowly, savoring the little details, the artful turn of phrases, the insights.

Children know the joy and pain of stories, and they beg for them each night or at the dinner table, or wrestle with sounding out the words in their first books, undaunted, to be caught up and transported. They can hear a loved story over and over, never bored.

Rumer’s writing has returned me to that love, seeped into me and ignited both a gratitude for, and a desire to tell, stories. To use words and writing (so hard for so, so long) not for conveying information, or to teach, but literally, to see words, taking the lessons photography has been teaching me this past year and approach writing more as a way to capture a moment in its fullness, to savor, to remember, to share.

As I photograph moments, and now have tried to write out those moments in words, the feeling is akin to prayer, and why not prayer be the word-photo, whispering, laughing, yelling, crying our story to the One who delights or weeps with us in the telling?

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Ah, a hummingbird has finally arrived, glinting green in the slanting morning light. He takes a sip, then another, then gently lights on the perch, drinking long and deep. It is good.

In gratitude for stories…

God writing and joining our story

Tea and conversations, walks and sharing

The joyous story of an adoption

Listening to Jack read aloud The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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Kabota Gardens, the story in their beauty

Lynne’s sermon and her gift of sharing stories

Photography’s continued lesson for living

Selling my first two photos and doors opening for more chances to capture moments and help stories be told with light and shadow.

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The Northern Flicker, whose visits add some lovely wild fun to my day, especially when he tries to land on the bird feeder–swinging it precariously.

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Sep 27 2010

Feathered Gratitude

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268. Grateful for the little hummers visiting me today.

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269. For the little feet.

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270. For the amazing wings.

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271. For glints of iridescent red.

272. For the Creator God who designed these little hovercraft and that they always show up when I need to remember Love.  They are God’s laughing “Yes!” to me.

(for more hummingbird delight, go to my photostream here)

And….

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273. Now back from an emergency trip to be with my parents in Texas, I am so grateful that my dad is doing better after being in the hospital!

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