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Deep Calling to Deep…

I wish you could know my friend Kendra. She is a remarkable young woman. Heart wide open. Generous, courageous, curious. I walk away from every encounter with her encouraged and challenged.

So when she made a request of me, a couple of weeks ago, I took it very seriously. She asked for suggestions for some creative, inspiring, heart-and-eyes-wide-open reading. As I began to compile my list, it occurred to me that I would have you know these books. And I would LOVE to know what would be on YOUR list.

Here are some of the authors and books that call to deep places in me. That rankle and provoke, that compel me to dream better dreams, that stoke the fire within.

Mary Oliver, especially Thirst  Oliver sees the world with extraordinary eyes, and she paints it with lovely, evocative words that allow us to see it, too. Her writings on longing and prayer and the life within are some of the most excruciating and exquisite I have ever read.

Another morning and I wake with thirst
for the goodness I do not have. I walk
out to the pond and all the way God has
given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord,
I was never a quick scholar but sulked
and hunched over my books past the
hour and the bell; grant me, in your
mercy, a little more time. Love for the
earth and love for you are having such a
long conversation in my heart. Who
knows what will finally happen or
where I will be sent, yet already I have
given a great many things away expect-
ing to be told to pack nothing, except the
prayers which, with this thirst, I am
slowly learning.

P.S. I love hearing her poetry in her own voice. Listen to three poems here. The first will surprise you, I think. The second, one of my favorites, will leave you undone. Marvelously undone. The third will nourish and delight.

Thomas Merton, especially The Seven Story Mountain and New Seeds of Contemplation. Also, the Book of Hours offers a lovely sampling of his work. Thomas Merton is an Anam Cara. A soul friend. One who sees the world in a way very like, only more so. I can pray his words and feel as though they are mine, just more elegant. More piercing and concise. More thorough. I crawl into them and travel through them to a place I want very much to know.

“You have made my soul for Your peace and Your silence, but it is lacerated by the noise of my activity and my desires.  My mind is crucified all day by its own hunger for experience, for ideas, for satisfaction.  And I do not possess my house in silence.

“But I was created for Your peace and You will not despise my longing for the holiness of Your deep silence.  O my Lord, You will not leave me forever in this sorrow, because I have trusted in You and I will wait upon Your good pleasure in peace and without complaining any more.  This, for Your glory.”

C.S Lewis, especially The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces  Well crafted stories carry profound truths to deep places in our hearts. I have read the first title 6 or 7 times, and the second twice. Once each with friends. I still see these characters regularly before my eyes. Lewis’ insight into the meandering of the human psyche and his ability to convey these are unmatched. *Note, The Great Divorce starts slowly in my opinion. Persevere! It is SO worth the effort. Soon you will be reading so fast you forget to breathe. And re-reading. I promise.

Chaim Potok, especially My Name is Asher Lev I have read three books (thus far) by this author, all excellent. But this is my favorite. Important questions about talents and gifts, about faith, and most especially about where (or whether) one can live at peace within the other. Excruciating. Riveting.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho An evocative tale about a young man seeking his “treasure”. He finds far more than he could have dreamed. Something richer, deeper, better. Something MORE…

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible…”

Madeleine L’Engle, especially Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art I happen to know Kendra already loves this one, but it is most essential. This is a sweet washing of life and imagination and God and story and creativity and everything that makes us truly alive in the world.

Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God When I am lost; when my soul is terribly troubled and I do not know how to say what is happening, I rush to Rilke. Almost always, I find the words I need here. His was a turbulent, hungry, desperate, ecstatic journey with God. And he wrote it all down. So I borrow his words. And say what is already in my heart.

In deep nights I dig for you like treasure.
For all I have seen
that clutters the surface of my world
is poor and paltry substitute
for the beauty of you
that has not happened yet….

My hands are bloody from digging.
I lift them, hold them open in the wind,
so they can branch like a tree.

Reaching, these hands would pull you out of the sky
as if you had shattered there,
dashed yourself to pieces in some wild impatience.

What is this I feel falling now,
falling on this parched earth,
softly,
like a spring rain?

John O’Donohue, especially Beauty the Invisible Embrace and Anam Cara  O’Donohue’s lyrical prose reads like poetry. (It doesn’t hurt that I heard him read before I read him.) I can always hear him now. A rich, Irish brogue that sings the words. Words about the beautiful. About love and kindness and spirit and God.

“…beauty is so quietly woven through our ordinary days that we hardly notice it.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky, especially The Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky’s world can be dark at times, but his characters are nuanced and layered. No villain is without hope of redemption, and no protagonist is thoroughly without vice. All are pilgrims. We see more of ourselves in them than we might care to.

Lilith by George MacDonald  The path to resurrection will ALWAYS lead through death. But none of us wants to die. Really. This is one of the most difficult books I have ever read. Mostly because at the time of my first encounter I was digging in my heels and refusing to die to all the things I had used to define “me”. I felt like letting go of these would be death, NOT figurative but LITERAL death. This book, this fantasy of the highest order, helped me get inside that dark place. It gave me courage to do the hard work of becoming, by first being willing to walk into the terrifying darkness of being nothing.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield  This is one of the most important books I have ever read on pursuing your calling, whatever that calling may be. I re-read it frequently because I so need the kick in the pants it delivers. Here is an example of what you will find within:

If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.

Julia Cameron’s  The Artist’s Way: Creativity as a Spiritual Practice  Cameron is a successful writer, but she remembers all too well what it is like to be silenced by fear. In this book she teaches us how to break through barriers to our creativity. Barriers we are not even aware of that are blocking our art. It is highly interactive and requires homework. But it is so worth it.

Thanks, Kendra, for giving me a reason to revisit old friends. Pick and choose whatever seems right to you. It is a worthy start, I believe.

To all of you, friends near and far, who is it that fans the flame of your passion, your creativity?

 

Joyously, Drunkenly, Serenely, Divinely…Aware

The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.
~Henry Miller

She wraps her tiny fingers around my tea cup. Gingerly. Huffing and puffing. She pulls it toward her. She purses her lips and blows, forming ripples in the green liquid. She breathes in the fragrance.. This she will do over and over til it is just cool enough to drink. This she does every morning. Like she is forming pathways in her brain. A place for hot. For July sun on bare skin, cookies just out of the oven, fire.

I pour the steaming liquid in my mouth. I feel it flow from my throat all the way to my stomach. And I think what a wonder this is. This hot. This enlivening fire in my belly. I thank her for this.

She buries her nose in the rose petals. I can hear her vigorous inhale. She brushes her lips, her cheeks, against them feeling their delicateness on her skin. She pulls a petal free and presses it between her fingers.

And I wonder if I have ever really encountered a rose at all.

We celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ. I hold her in my arms. Her eyes travel up into the dome to Christ, then to the icons along the walls. She cranes her neck to watch the incense rise from the censor. She follows the grand entrance with rapt attention.

At the end of the service, I receive a handful of blessed grapes. I bite one in half to share with her. Her eyes grow big and her delighted smile emits a tiny trickle of juice. She hastily signs “please” for another bite. And another. The grapes are cold and sweet and good. Like morsels of joy.

Atistotle is said to have taught his students while walking with them through the Lyceum. Similarly, my own little peripatetic philosopher teaches me. To move slowly. To drink deeply. To be intensely aware. Always.

This tiny contemplative sees the most ordinary things as extraordinary. And because of her, I see them too.

May I ever remember how to do this.

May we all.

Contemplation is the highest expression of man’s intellectual and spiritual life. It is that life itself, fully awake, fully active, fully aware that it is alive. It is spiritual wonder. It is spontaneous awe at the sacredness of life, of being. ~Thomas Merton

*In the event you are new to the blog, the aforementioned “she” is my 15 month old granddaughter, Kenzie, who lives in a perpetual state of wonder.

**A challenge: Find something ordinary that is part of your every day. Ask for the grace to see it anew. Consider it slowly. Allow yourself to experience deep gratitude for everyday mercies that often escape our regard.

Curious. Expectant. Surprised.

The evening is soft and sultry. Unexpectedly hot for May. We sit on calico covered hay bales in the long twilight shadows, while the two of them make promises. Love and cherish. Til death. I have never seen her more radiant.

Every detail says something about who they are. Individually. And as one. Bow ties and suspenders. Antique colored glasses spilling blossoms. Lanterns, paper pinwheels, and signature cocktails served up in mason jars.

He leads her to the dance floor. His touch tender, her eyes filled with love. And their deep joy becomes the music, becomes the dance, becomes the night sky and stars and fireflies and air. I can’t take my eyes off them.

They have been dancing into one another for months. A bit at a time. Here is the extraordinary thing, as they have moved toward oneness, I have seen her becoming more and more herself. As though he is liberating something inside her, and she is liberating him. A sweet, selfless love that is curious and generous, that discovers and makes brave.

I have thought of it often since that night.

 The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own. ~Benjamin Disraeli

He is an internationally renowned jazz pianist who has played with the likes of Art Blakey and Wynton and Branford Marsalis. There is a photo on the wall of him with Dave Brubeck. He talks about these things humbly. Like gift.

Then he begins to tell us about some of his students. Students who have played with Miles Davis and Sting. Students who have become headliners in their own right. He talks about the joy of helping someone find in himself something he didn’t know was there. And I am very glad to be entrusting my son to him for the next four years.

It is gift…

…this ability to see inside someone and draw out what is there. But it is gift that can be cultivated. By listening deeply. By loving generously, without agenda. By wanting the good of the other as much as I want the good of myself. By being willing to surrender preconceived notions and allow the other to grow beyond anything I could have imagined for him.

I want to love like this.

I want to live among others like this.

Curious.

Expectant.

Surprised.

Don’t you?

*The enchanting couple above are Shawn and Madeline Lemon. It is a delight to know them. Positively beautiful, inside and out. Photograph by Brandon Chesbro.

**Jake’s instructor is to be the inimitable Donald Brown. I include the following by way of introduction. Treat yourself to a summer evening in Vienna, and jazz on a Bösendorfer. (That is perhaps only ironic to piano snobs. ;)) The piano solo is about 5 minutes in. Don’t miss it.

Honey’s Vintage Sweets

Soft, sea foam walls give the eye a place to rest against a cacophony of color worthy of Wonka. A wall of glass jars filled with assorted delights beckons from across the room. But I can’t get to them. I can’t stop meandering past every table.

Nostalgic candies from my childhood. I tell Marianne about riding my bike through the woods and out to a little store on the highway to buy candy necklaces. My cousin and I would put them on our sweaty necks and wear (and eat) them all the way home. Mike delights in 6 different flavors of Zotz and an infinite variety of pop rocks. There are candy cigarettes, teaberry gum, wax lips, sugar daddies…..

Novelties. All things mustache, plates with faces that kids can decorate with food, cap guns, sling shots, bubble gum yard sticks, dispense your own Jelly Bellies or sour powder, a whole side board of assorted Pez dispensers…

I know where I will be shopping for stocking-stuffers this year….

Sample 12  flavors of rich, decadent home-made ice cream from a Kentucky dairy that has been in operation for over a century. The strawberry is ridiculous. My friends, Allie and Jordan, recommend the milkshakes.

My favorite thing in the whole store…the thing I can’t stop thinking about…the thing you MUST try…is the strawberry lemonade. Fresh-pressed lemon juice, muddled strawberries, simple syrup, and a generous splash of joy. It is vibrant, refreshing and crazy delicious.

Honeys Vintage Sweets officially opens today. You can find them at 123 South Margin Street in Franklin. For more information, or to keep up with special offers and promotions, check out their facebook page. You’re welcome. 🙂

 

Seemingly Unnecessary…

She covered her walls with newspaper to keep out the cold. Her quilt patterns were cut from her children’s arithmetic papers. I still wear her pink apron, made of flour sacking. Much repaired with fine, meticulous stitches.

She was a Depression era bride. In Appalachia. Of necessity, she became a master in the art of stretch. Of making things go further than one thought they might.

Into this austere life of thrift, she wove strands of beauty. Seemingly unnecessary. But, I imagine, very necessary.

We all grew up sleeping under her quilts. Her children. Her grandchildren. Even her great-grandchildren. I have thought of her often while working on a  quilt for my grandbaby. Of the love she poured into every stitch. Of the joy she must have felt as she watched something so lovely grow under her hands.

I have dragged her peonies with me to multiple houses over the years. She loved peonies. Every year she would haul wheelbarrows of manure from the cowshed to nourish those beauties. It is a fitting metaphor, perhaps. Coaxing something exquisite out of something lowly. Like weaving gold from straw…

I have pillow cases that she embroidered. I try to think when she had the time. She drew her water from a well. Raised, dried, and canned everything they ate. And cooked it on a woodburning stove. She did not have indoor plumbing til long after I was born. What was it that compelled her to carve a space in her life, in the lives of her family, for something pretty?

It is this that stitches my heart to hers. This necessity of loveliness. This imprint of the Creator.

My grandmother has been absent the earth for just over 18 years. But in a week or so, her peonies will open again. Their stems will nod from the weight of the luscious blossoms. Tonight, someone she loves will sleep under a quilt she stitched some winters back. And it’s very likely that today, some one of her progeny will weave a little extra beauty into a humble task. Seemingly unnecessary. But, I imagine, very necessary.

Pura Vida: A Travelogue, part the second

15 March: The streams look for all the world like Tennessee streams, so familiar to me. But they are HOT! Heated underground by the same fire that melts the rock, that sends flumes of smoke into the air, that cloaks the mountain in lava. The steam rises against lush foliage and tropical blossom. Unseen speakers add a flute serenade to the trickle of water, the sound of birds.

I sink into the warm. I feel it stitching together something broken. I imagine scenes in movies where wounds are miraculously healed. And I know this magic is happening inside me. Somehow. The warm swims around me, while cool breezes blow over me. Blossoms nod in the breeze and birds sing. And I wonder if there is a limit to how much delight one person can handle. I feel perilously close to that threshold…

In the afternoon, we visit the volcano that heats our springs. We are “greeted” at the entrance by a Coati. Costa Rica’s answer to the raccoon. 🙂

Before the afternoon is over, we will encounter Maggie Jays, White faced Capuchin Monkeys, a Coral snake, a Ceibo tree large enough to drive a truck through, and rugged beauty that will slay us.

Most remarkable is the old lava flow. Out of this black, arid landscape grow delicate, voluptuous lilies. It is impossible to reconcile this in my mind. I breathe it in. I take photographs, trying to make it real. It is paradox. Beauty from ashes. This, I know. I have known it intimately. In my own life. I belong here. This field…of waste…of refuse…of inexplicable wonder. This…is…me.

The view from here is astonishing. Arenal volcano in one direction, and Lake Arenal in the other. I would stay here. Linger. In the in-between. There is much to know in this place.  A knowing that has little to do with words. And much to do with being overwhelmed. Undone. A knowing that grows inside. Gradually. A knowing stitched together of stones and lilies and breeze and vastness and exposure and being alone, but not alone. Of being…small….

Pura Vida: A Travelogue, part the first

13 March: We careen around hairpin curves, up and up and up….until we reach the summit, and plunge headlong into the next valley. The landscape undulates like a quilt pressed in from the edges. One mountain crowds against the next. And the hillsides are covered in coffee plants. They line themselves up in stepped plantings that make me think of rice terraces in Asia. They stretch far as the eye can see, barely kept in bounds by fence-rows of palms.

The houses we pass are modest, but neat. Tucked into the side of the hill. With bougainvillea clambering over the walls and hibiscus growing wild in the yard. It is a world of green, punctuated by shots of color: magenta, fuchsia, violet, fiery orange, saffron, and crimson.

The air blowing in at the windows cools. And it carries water. I can feel it against my face. We have reached the cloud forest. In the beginning, it reminds me of a foggy morning in Franklin. But not for long…

Our driver deposits us at The Peace Lodge, our home for the next two days. It will not be long enough. Here we have our first experience with a synergy we will see over and over in Costa Rica. Artists come alongside the extraordinary natural beauty rampant in this little remnant of Eden, and craft something organic and lovely that belongs…that becomes an integral part of the place.

It is the pure life ethos of this exceptional people. “Pura vida!” It is greeting and farewell. It is bravo and well-done. But mostly, it is a way of being. A clean, vital embrace of joy, along with a conscientious care for their stewardship of paradise.

After wandering about for a while, all agog, mouth hanging open, in the bit of heaven that will pass for our lodging here, we decide to go for an explore. We meander down a trail that leads us into a jungle paradise of plunging waterfalls, lush foliage, and sumptuous blossoms. Every turn in the path is a new vista. A new intake of breath. Astonishing extravagance. And I am having a difficult time believing this is real. That I am here. Only in dreams are colors this vibrant; peace this thoroughly undiluted.

Tonight we will sleep in the cloud forest, doors thrown open to a lullaby of birdsong and cascading water.

We will awake to feed the hummingbirds. To feel the ferocity of their wings as they soar over our heads. To study the intricacy of their feathers and marvel at their beauty. We will feast on gallo pinto, plantains, fresh sweet papaya and pineapple, tamarind juice, soft cheese, agua dulce (a warm, sweet drink made from sugar cane and milk), and rich, dark Costa Rican coffee. We will keep company with butterflies, toucans, frogs, monkeys, sloths, and snakes. And we are only beginning…..

Postcards from Paradise…

The words will come.

I know it.

But, just now, they are flying around, frantically, in and out of my head…a confusion of thoughts and impressions, remembrances and moments, ecstasies and and quiet reveries, that refuse to be contained or given shape and I don’t even know where to start or which ones go together or if you even want to hear them or if I’ve already talked about it enough and does it really matter in the scheme of things or should I just move on and only bore my family with the stories and anecdotes or would it be fun for you to have a glimpse into our week in Eden and our frolic amongst some of God’s most brilliant handiwork….

So….until I can get a handle on the words…and stop writing ridiculous run-on sentences…(Who do I think I am? Hemingway?)…I thought I would share with you a few favorite photographs. I took around 700 over the 9 days we were away. On my phone. That doesn’t include the ones on the camera or video camera. I have not even uploaded those yet. Nor does it account for the several experiences, like zip-lining or white-water rafting, where we took no photos at all.

But Costa Rica is one of the most visually stunning places I have ever visited. It seams a fitting place to begin.

Blue Morpho Butterfly on Bougainvillaea

Photograph taken at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, though we saw an abundance of these magnificent creatures in the wild. Bougainvillaea was also plentiful, covering hillsides with abandon. Glorious extravagance!

Green Crowned Brilliant Hummingbird

Hand feeding these beauties was one of the highlights of our trip. To study them up close. To feel the power of their wings as they soared past our faces. Remarkable!! (Blow this one up and have a closer look. The detail of her feathers is astonishing.)

Violet Sabrewing

I confess, this little fellow stole my heart. I am crazy mad about purple. And the peculiar hue of his feathers is positively captivating. (Note how my phone portrayed the fury of his wings.)

Lily

This graceful beauty pushed its way out of the old lava flow at the base of Arenal Volcano. The stark contrast of elegance against raw, aridity is compelling. A visual lesson in beauty from ashes.

Lavender Lilies Against Arenal

I had to scale a bit of an escarpment to get to these. It was worth it. The delicate lavender of the blossoms against the deep blue cone of Arenal wounded me with their loveliness.

Harbor at Quepos

Restricted color palette. A quiet oasis amidst unrelenting exuberance. Every time I look at it, my heart flutters. The stillness. How it washes over me. Softly. Can’t explain…

Water and Sky, Framed

I am embarrassed to say how many photographs I have of precisely this shot. I was infatuated. I couldn’t stop watching the play of the spray against the indigo sky as set off by their rugged frame.

Study in Blue

The architecture of the gnarled trunk against the assortment of blues delights me.

Pretty in Purple

I’m a sucker for purple. Perhaps I mentioned that. I suppose that’s why I spotted these, hidden underneath a big leafy bush. Like they were an accident or something. Such intricacy of form, such deliberate detail, in blossoms no more than 3 inches across! SomeONE takes great joy in making things lovely. Even those that will often go unseen…

*In case you are wondering, I do not know why the vertical photos are not centered. They made that determination themselves and, despite my best efforts, will not relent. It bothers me more than I can, or should, say. Especially in a post given to the beautiful. Alas, I have no technical skills. So imagine a perfectly centered and pleasingly arranged post. Will ya? 🙂

Of What Value, a Life?

We laid her body to rest on a cool, clear summer morning.  Blackberries were just beginning to ripen along the fence rows.  Sweet pea blossoms nodded in the breeze.  The whir of insects, and the intermittent gossip of birds, supplied the only sounds.  The cemetery was an island of green in a great field of freshly mown hay, lying in strips, waiting to be gathered into bundles of winter sustenance.

I remember walking down there with my grandmother as a little girl to visit the graves of our forebears and to share stories.  And now she will sleep there in those mountains where she raised her babies…where she rose in the pre-dawn hours and walked with my grandpa to the dairy barn that provided their livelihood…where she carved a garden out of the earth, then preserved its yield so that her family need never be hungry…where her table was always laden with good things, and her chicken and dumplings were the stuff of legend.

She welcomed her grandchildren (and later her great grandchildren) to this world apart.  It was a life of simple elegance.  You could see a million stars in the night sky, and almost as many lightening bugs hovering over the fields.  There were barns, and corn cribs, and old pieces of forgotten road to explore. Here the dogs frequently smelled of skunk, and the water smelled of the iron that was heavy in their well. And when the summer heat was too much, there was a deep swimming hole nearby that was always cold.  Life was slow here.  And good. We got snowbound one Christmas.  It was the best Christmas ever.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord…they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”  Revelation 14:13

I have pondered this verse since the minister shared it at her funeral.  Even though she now abides in the Presence, I know that she has left bits and pieces of herself in us.  As I contemplate her legacy, the deeds that follow, here are some of the traits that live most vividly in my recollection, and I hope live, at some level, in me.

Extravagant Love She and my grandpa were married 71 years.  That, in itself, would be quite a feat.  The beautiful thing is that they were still crazy about each other.  He used a different voice when he spoke to her than he used with anyone else.  I have seen Grandpa teary before, but never in my life have I heard him sob……until yesterday.  He has lost his sweetheart.

All of us who sat on her porch yesterday, who gathered around grandpa and sang away the afternoon, have been the grateful recipients of that love.  That doesn’t mean she was oblivious to our faults.  She never hesitated to offer words of correction or advice when she felt they were warranted.  But she found ways to make each of us feel as though we had some singular value, as though we were special.

Exceptional Vitality She tilled her garden until she was in her 80s.  Quite frankly, I am in awe of that.  My mom laughed about the fact that when Grandma went along with the sisters on summer vacations they thought she would give them an excuse to move slowly.  They were wrong.  She and my grandpa visited my aunt in Germany when I was a teenager.  And I still have fond memories of a trip our whole family, grandparents included, made to the beach after I was already married.  Hers was a vitality of mind as well.  Always learning, always curious.

Perhaps this was one of the hardest things about watching as both body and mind betrayed her after her stroke.  We knew the vivacious woman who lived inside.  And even within the confines of a body that no longer did everything she asked it to, those sparks of ebullience, of wit and good humor, still emerged from time to time.

Extraordinary Generosity The line of mourners stretched across the room, down the hall, and out the door at times.  So many people loved her and came to say so.  She had given of herself to them…encouragement, advice, understanding, sympathy, courage.  Some of them she had taught, others she had fed, driven, served, mentored.  Grandma had a way of seeing people others do not see and drawing them into her loving embrace.  My daughter is very like her in this.  I loved hearing their stories.

“How does someone who lived so simply leave such a hole?” my cousin Amy asked through her tears.  My grandma was not famous.  I’ll warrant you have never heard her name.  But every life that intersected hers was made richer by her presence.  I would take that over being famous any day.  She lived a quiet life of ordinary, extraordinary beauty.  And that is profoundly valuable.  I am blessed to have known her.

Versatile Blogger

Here’s something fun. One of my favorite real-life poet friends, Karissa, nominated me for a Versatile Blogger award. Here’s how it works: When you are nominated for this award, you thank the person who nominated you, write 7 things about yourself, and nominate 10 more bloggers.

Karissa and I worship together as part of the faith family of St. Ignatius Orthodox Church. We also enjoy talking about all things literary. She has given me some great book recommendations, like The Saffron Kitchen and The Wild Iris.  You will definitely enjoy reading her blog, The Iris Chronicles.

Thank you, Karissa, for thinking of me.

For the benefit of those of you who read my blog regularly and already know more about me than you want, I thought it might be fun to make my 7 random things excessively random. Just for fun. 🙂

1. I can only sleep on a cold pillow. If I wake up during the night, I have to turn my pillow over to the cold side before I can go back to sleep. I also have to have my feet outside the covers.

2. Though I am prone to break out in spontaneous worship at any time, in any place, I have had the opportunity to worship corporately in some pretty varied settings: tent revivals with sawdust on the ground, brush arbors (I am from Appalachia after all), Medieval European cathedrals, a school in Spanish Harlem and a schoolyard in Malawi, campgrounds, storefronts, amusement parks, tiny country churches with windows open and flies buzzing (and, in one instance, a snake)…

3. There are certain shades of purple that affect me viscerally; an ecstatic, delicious, piercing, heart thumping, breathless something that lies entirely outside the realm of words.

4. When I was a senior in high school, we had a fall that was so wet we couldn’t get a mechanical corn picker into the cornfield. My family and I spent every weekend from early October to the week before Christmas (including Thanksgiving Day) in that field harvesting the winter sustenance for our animals. By hand. My brothers and I whined and complained and made up ridiculous songs of lament. And laughed. And ate hot soup for lunch. And, in the end, harvested something far more significant and lasting than a few ears of corn.

5. I think it is inevitable that I will live in Europe for a while at some point before I die. Probably France. But maybe Italy. Or Ireland…

6. I am learning to play the mandolin. It’s harder than it looks. But fun. It seems to be more suited to my voice than the piano, if that makes sense. And considerably more portable.

7. I am an Enneagram 4 with a 5 wing. And an ENFP. If anyone is keeping score.

Here are a few folks I would love for you to know. Some of them do not post all that often (most have small people underfoot), but it is very worthwhile when they do. My nominees for Versatile Blogger:

1. Jennifer Lynn King

2. Joel J. Miller

3. William Guice

4. Jennifer Gillett

5. Meg H. Miller

6. Gail Hyatt

7. Kari Slusser

8. Jen Jarnagin

9. Anna Mccullum

10. Rhonda Kemp

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