I’ve been reading again.

I’ve felt rather lost and uncertain as of late. I’ve used the word “floundering” to describe how I feel so many times, the word makes my stomach hurt. It’s not that I stopped being Maggie, it’s just that I forgot who Maggie was. I knew bits and pieces. I could repeat the truth of it to myself – you’re Beloved, you’re daughter, you’re important to the Kingdom, you’re a bright, lovely creature because He said so, you are a writer – but when your heart is sick, though you know the truth, your sick heart coughs it up.

When your heart is sick, pieces of you that you thought were so deeply woven they could never come undone, disappear. They slip into the ocean inside of you and kick and splash and they’re gone. And at first, you row around on your makeshift raft and ravenously search the endless waters for the good that slipped into unknown. But time wears, and your raft hits a land you’ve never before encountered, and you count those good things forever lost. You don’t lose hope, though. Not really. You find a way to live on this new land of yours – you make the best of things (the way that you do) and this land that is only somewhat you, is okay. Even if your heart is sick.

Sometimes, sometimes in the night, you wake with a start and the stars seem brighter than usual and the air tastes sweet and ancient and sharp, and you swell. Something glimmers on a distant wave and you don’t dare breathe, because there – just beyond your reach – is the piece of you that you lost. The piece you need so desperately, that without it, you are left to repeat the truth to your fevered heart and watch it be retched up. Again and again.

I kept reading the writing of others – my pastor, my mom, my dad, my friends – and I would ache, deep inside ache, because I know I am I writer. But my writing felt stiff and foreign, an unloved thing. You are a writer – heaved up.

Here’s the profound thing – because I could not believe one truth about myself, I could not believe any of them. Because I could not remember that I really am a writer, I could not see myself as Beloved daughter, I could not see how important I am to the Kingdom. I crumbled. I stopped.

Some days ag0, Mom hid a letter she wrote to me in my bible. It took me until Friday to find it. Her words of love for me reminded me I once wrote from a deep well.  My heart seized. I found her and cried out words that didn’t express what I meant. I cried out words that expressed what I didn’t mean. She hugged me, and set a work of fiction on my desk.

The book swallowed me whole. It ran to my heart, ran right to the sickest part of it, and sank in deep. And my heart kept it. My heart took it in with great gulps. Slowly, slowly, I remembered. I remembered the promise of a book. I remembered how I loved words and loved how words sounded and tasted, and how you can, with the greatest care, caress words into death-taking, life-bringing things. I remembered how precious story is. I remembered how quickly I love people. I remembered how quickly I hate the evil. I remembered the well of story inside of me.

I jumped off the land, jumped off the make-shift raft and drank in sea water with hungry lungs.

Here’s the profound thing – when my heart knew that one truth about myself, it could take in all of them. Because I know I am a writer, I can feel the Father’s pleasure, I can see Kingdom life springing up around me. And I won’t stop.

For Brittany

Coffee, cheesecake, two forks –
decedent indulgence,
chapters to read,
chapters to write,
and conversation to fill the gap –
conversation of grandeur
of chocolate and artwork
of traveling and dreams and words
– words to written,
words to be said,
the volumes and volumes
of books to be read,
the miles and miles
of places to go –
of sunsets to see
of people meet,
how every inch of the land
calls to me
and wants to be heard,
to be tasted and seen –
and there’s not
enough time,
enough time,
we decide
and worry wells up
from some deep place inside
for what of adventure?
of far off new places?
of places some yards down the road?
And what of the volumes
and volumes of books!
Rise up! Seize the day!
Run too far! Fly away!
or, just live well today,
be present,
read a word,
write a word,
share cheesecake
and sip coffee,
with a lovely soul –
Take a breath,
in the end
we’ll be fine.

A Kingdom

There are simply too many things about which to write. I had an entry all planned out about stories and heroes and heroines – its an unfinished memoir/something-of-a-revelation that I began a while ago and merely had to finish and post. But, here I sit in a large, smelly warehouse full of wooden ramps and skateboarders with my books of poetry and fiction and the weight of a failed test impeding on my mental function and millions of other stories and thoughts mill about and make my fingers itch to write them. So, the other post will be stowed away for a day less full of eager words and I will release these ones to meander about spaces much larger than the tangled, wide-open web that is my mind.

There is an odd infusion of life happening now – a strange convergence of a great many unrelated, yet intertwined things that are nearly enemies, yet exist now in contented peace. Even the air in this large, simple space is contradictory. It’s crisp, clean – the kind of air easily breathed – the kind that is cold, but doesn’t necessarily beg to be somehow different, warm. This is my favorite kind of air. It’s the air that fills large, old houses in the winter, the air that whisks above the ground on early autumn mornings before the sun has come to bring change. It’s waking air, clean air, new and wise air, it is writing air. Still, I don’t like the air here because it carries the unwanted stowaway that is mildew and sweat. It is as if this lovely, treasured air accidentally slipped through a boys’ locker room on its way here and the locker room air clung on and would not be shaken – as if the glittering, golden thing that is my favorite air had unintentionally brought onto itself a grey, grimy swirl.

There is music carried on the same air, thought it is only a somewhat more melodic din and clatter added to the quiet roar of skateboards and their riders gliding over every wooden surface available. It sounds almost as if I’m siting above a den of lions, roaring and rattling the chain-link fence around them. There is a rhythm to the skaters – a silent, invisible conductor stands and moves his arms, now you, now you, now you, so the sound fades in an out like waves, so the lions roar like the ocean and not in unrestrained chaos.

My mother and I sit on two metal chairs that are situated on the edge of a balcony, a few feet away from a heavy metal fence, they are a shade of something-like-tan-only-worse and as beat up as the floor they weigh down. We sit there surrounded by journals and books of poetry and fiction and memoirs and beauty. It’s as if we were queen and princesses, looking down on the rest of the warehouse as if it were our kingdom, searching now and then, for a small boy dressed in black who is trying very mightily to tell the story that he is worth watching, worth being around – and he is. He is my brother, hypothetical prince of this odd kingdom; and it is an odd kingdom. It is a kingdom whose supposed rulers are nearly the opposite of it. She reads aloud to me, the queen, and I can almost hear the graffitied walls around us curiously proclaiming this does not belong here, but it is not unwelcome. As if they are unsure of what to do with us, yet they want something of what we bring, something of what we are. We are a stroke of golden and warmth and lavender in the muddled, sweat-smelling air. There is nothing more or less glorious about us than the rest of the kingdom.

The skateboarders fly – I swear it’s true. They fly on the ground. I didn’t think it possible until I saw it, but they do. Their clothes whip about them, their arms rise and fall, they look weightless and free – they fly, and that’s glorious. Even the ragged, scarred walls, the rancid air – they are glorious – longing to burst forth with life. It reminds me of another kingdom, an infinitely more glorious one – things that are contradictions just in their being, existing purposefully, peacefully, beautifully together; a silent, invisible conductor ushering rhythm into the chaos, orchestrating an extravagant, simple, breath-taking song; people who fly, free, on the ground; people who just by their living awake something long still inside of people on the fringes, call the unwanted, unloved to curiously proclaim this does not belong here, but it is not unwelcome.

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