Monthly Archives: March 2012

participation

I’m a sucker for Vows, the couple the NY Times features in its wedding announcements. The course of true love runs smooth or it runs into obstacles, but the couple overcomes and joins together in a great and joyful wedding. The happily ever after possibility gets me every time. Which brings me to something in the travel section this Sunday….an article about Japan, about how it’s doing since the tsunami, which was a year ago. Resilience, self possession, and community mindedness are what the writer sees in its comeback after such a blow from nature. You need those for a marriage, too, I’m thinking. And these two ideas, which the writer says the Japanese are able to hold at the same time: Happy moments in life cannot erase losses; nor can losses ever keep one from knowing happiness. I quote: “To see that life means a joyful participation in a world of sorrow, and that suffering is not the same as unhappiness is one of the singular blessings this seasoned country still has to offer.” Maybe that’s why I like to read about vibrant weddings and love overcoming all….

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 Secret place of the most high….words from the poetry that is often the language of the King James Bible….

I found one when I went out walking with my youngest grandson on a recent Houston spring night. Lovely, soft weather, a just past half-full moon visible in the not quite twilight sky. He alert and ready in his stroller. Shall we look for acorns (one of our pasttimes)? I ask him, and he says his soft ok that makes me smile. (He’s a few months over 2 years on the calendar but so much wiser. He’s my guide for accessing the lost child in me.) But there are no acorns.

Now we walk with him out of the stroller. He’s good about holding on to the stroller when we cross the streets. For a while, he holds on even when he doesn’t have to, and this small act of obedience always touches me. I always urge him to let go, tell him he doesn’t have to hold on when we’re not crossing the street. There’s something in me moved by his obedience but wanting him to spread his little wings.

We pass a fire hydrant, and I tell him that’s where the firetrucks get water. His father has purchased a firetruck video, and this grandson, as did my older grandson, will sit riveted to watch it from beginning to end.  He talks to the hydrant and touches small chains attached to it. I realize he is creating a huge story in his mind, that in his mind actual trucks are coming to the hydrant or something like that. After a time, I get impatient, tell him to come on, walk a distance away. He stays by the hydrant, talking, talking and playing with the chains. When I give up and walk back, he says, stay, Nana, and I obey.

I teach a class about the novel, about writing. You can’t teach writing, but you can facilitate it, and you can offer some obvious ingredients needed to make a story. I know that the students want a recipe, fixed and easy for fiction, and there isn’t one. You have to have the imagination of this small boy, who is making up and acting out some amazing story in his mind inspired by a fire hydrant.

I wait at the edge of night, the moon rising higher, for his story to end. When it does, he’s tired, ready to be tucked into the stroller. Where’s the moon? he asks me. There, I answer and show him.  Moon follow me, he says.

May it always, I think, and send grandmother blessings his way and think about how lucky I am as we walk home in the enfolding dark…..I’ve been in the secret place of the most high, and it was beautiful…..

What’s your secret place? What are your treasures?

tender

As I finger through the shards of my week looking for something to write here, I’m dazzled and distracted by the delight of the day, a finest of Houston day, not cold, but not hot, no humidity, everything not already green showing sulfur-hued tips as if the sun were flinging paint which fell first through an absinthe sieve. This is the time of year when three of my favorite plants flower, the redbud with its heart-stinging purple, the tulip tree with its cream-tinged blush, the azaleas shaded pastel to fuchsia. They won’t last, are here but for a moment. They’re too tender. People are tender, too, aren’t they, until life or we toughen them up. Once I made a character say, I’ve know passion and I’ve known love, but tenderness is best. Easily cut or buised, the dictionary says. I prefer the thesaurus: fine, quiet, gentle. light, sensitive, warm, devoted, melting. Old longings can raise their heads on a melting day like this one, but the sun, the tender of the greens soothes them to quiescence. There will be no tantrums. They’re ghosts of themselves anyway. Is that time? Is that wisdom? Is that good? Is that bad?

What tenderness in you has survived? Can you bear it?