I haven’t written anything for about a week now. I guess it would be truer to say that I have not been able to write anything during this time. Some people call this “writer’s block”. I like to think that my Muse needs a rest or a vacation now and then.
There are several different schools of thought on this matter. There are those who think that if you are a writer (or painter, or any other type of creative person), you should just blast through the block, force yourself to write something (or paint, or whatever), get something going. Others think that this is not natural and that if the creativity doesn’t flow, then leave it alone.
I happen to be of the second opinion. Even though it is frustrating for me to come to the end of a day with itchy fingers but nothing running around in my head, my heart, or my soul, I think it is right (for me) to wait until the Muse decides to come home from her vacation, opens her suitcases, and spills out whatever treasures she brings home to share with me.
I guess I need to clarify here that it’s not that my mind has been totally blank. I know I still have a writing to do about the glorious Cowboys game that we experienced in Tampa a few weeks ago (even though they weren’t so glorious against Denver last weekend!). To be noted that there’s another posting about “mentors” that’s creating waves in my heart. And my soul is contentedly nurturing a whole juicy article abut Zhanra’s, a restaurant in St. Augustine that is fast becoming my favorite Sunday brunch spot.
What happens for me, I think, is that my Muse needs head, heart, and soul lined up in some sort of synchronicity. They all need to be on the same page (no pun intended!), singing along in harmonious arcapella. And then, of course, I have that devious little fellow, de-pression, who hovers out in left field waiting to strike me out.
Yesterday, however, Rich and I drove up to north western Georgia with some friends. We are sharing a weekend with them in a gorgeous log cabin in the mountains. My heart and soul are both jumping for joy and sitting in serenity. Just to be in the mountains after living in the Florid flatlands is a gift from God. My soul is very connected to rocks and mountains.
As well as the mountains, we are also surrounded by woodlands that are made up of more than pine trees. (Trees are the next soul connection after mountains for me.) It is early Fall and the colors are creeping into the leaves. As I look out over the wrap-around porch that I am sitting on there are lovely shades of yellow and bronze with some soft deep pinks and russet reds here and there.
Just below the cabin there is a small lake and to one side of us I can hear the running waters of a creek that feeds into the lake. Birds are singing all around us and the squirrels are having such fun scampering up and down and in and out of the trees. From where I am sitting I can see three large squirrel nests.
As the evening closed in yesterday we lit a log fire in the outdoor fireplace on the porch. The night was still, the fire crackled, and all around us were the sounds of the night. Crickets and other insects formed the string section of the orchestra. Various frogs tuned up their woodwind instruments, and some unknown creature of the dark provided a strange soft trilling sound.
When the sky darkened into full night we were treated to a magnificent starry display. We are far from any major town so city lights did not spoil the effect of God’s night-time creation. As we gazed up we realized we were seeing the Milky Way and there were a gazillion other stars up there. I saw three shooting stars, one that was big and bright and seemed to cross the whole heavens on its journey to extinction. And I was reminded of another night, another starry sky in Umbria, Italy many years ago.
And as I sat and bathed in the beauty of it all, I felt a subtle internal shift. I knew that Muse was on her way home and that soon my itchy fingers would be flying across the keyboard. I am grateful for her return and, as if to confirm her presence with me right now, a watery sun is dappling through the trees to bathe me in a soft morning glow.
A couple of months ago I was part of a team putting on a women’s retreat. We had come together on the Friday evening to do the set up and preparation for the weekend. There was a lot of physical work involved and by the end of the evening I was tired, disheveled, and sweaty. Although I felt in inner satisfaction at the work achieved, I did not feel pretty in that moment.
Some of the team had already gone home; family schedules or sheer tiredness. But a handful of us put the finishing touches to things, and then gathered for a few moments of prayer together in the small chapel we had just created for the weekend. One of the ladies said a spontaneous prayer about us being instruments of the Lord and asking God to let His light to shine out from us.
On my way home I had to stop off at Publix to pick up a few items. It was almost closing time, about 9.40pm by the time I got there. I ran in, grabbed what I needed, and headed out the store to go home. As I stepped out and into the parking lot a gentleman had just parked in the Handicap slot and was exiting his truck.
In that moment my mind took in a couple of things: he had parked in the Handicap slot and he was using a cane for support as he walked. I took my second step into the parking lot as he turned toward the store and our eyes met. It wasn’t a “frozen-in-time” moment. I’ll try to explain it.
The next three or four seconds seemed to run in slow motion. Everything that happened was like a .1 of a second, frame-by-frame shot of those moments. I took in the gentleman’s physical handicaps (possibly the result of cerebral palsy). I saw his eyes light up as he took in my presence. I watched as his mind began framing a thought and then started transmitting that thought from his brain to his mouth.
Speaking slowly and with some difficulty he said, “You are so very pretty ma’am”. I was totally caught off guard. I think I hesitated for a fraction of a second in my step as I tried to process the words that I had heard and the context of the moment. And then I gave him a huge smile as I replied, “Thank you sir.” Again, I watched his thought process form and the transmitting order going from brain to mouth, and he added, “You are glowing with prettiness”. Without hesitation I said, “That’s because I’ve been about God’s business”. He nodded, tipped his baseball cap, and we both went about our ways richer for our encounter.
This story so far, in and of itself, is beautiful. But it didn’t end there. I went home feeling light as a feather and feeling truly beautiful inside and out, as only a 65 year-old women who was feeling very scruffy at the time of this occurrence could possibly feel. I was not only smiling with my mouth, but it felt like I had a huge smile inside my stomach that was just spreading all over my body.
Next morning I was up before dawn to head over the St. John’s river to the church. We had an awesome first day of retreat and early on Sunday morning we gathered together in our chapel for morning prayers which Deacon Paul had written especially for our weekend. Imagine the synchronicity, the God-incidence that I felt when we came to read the response that he had created for our Intercessions. The exact words were (thank you Sue!), “Lord, make us shine with the brightness of Christ.”