Field tripping disturbs routine in a healthy way. Plan a field trip for amusement, camaraderie, education, or inspiration. What is field tripping? Simply join a group and wander through unfamiliar territory. Explore something old. Investigate something new. A field trip will lift your spirits.
I tagged along with my friend Jan on her RV club field trip. The time with my friend, opportunity to try a new restaurant, and chance to explore local history sold me.
First, we joined a dozen adventurous ladies and one gent at Kiss the Cook in Glendale, AZ. Kitschy decor and a robust soup, salad, and sandwich menu put us in the right mood for our second stop–the nearby Cerreta Candy Factory.
I approach candy like Eve reaching for the apple, but with more caution. Bite through a glistening layer of dark chocolate. Feel the touch of the creamy raspberry center on your tongue. Experience pure pleasure. But if you move on to the sea salt caramels, the next thing you know you are popping chocolate-covered coffee beans until your head buzzes and your teeth sing.Read More»
My brain started buzzing when T.M. McNally used the Trinity as an illustration for story structure in a Lyrical Fiction writing seminar. In the creation story, he posited, Father is the subject, Son is the plot, and Holy Spirit is the metaphor. I am meditating on that.
It is a passion story filled with love and pain. He invites us to enter his story and experience his love and pain. To what purpose, we may ask. To know him and be known by him. For relationship.
The Holy Spirit is the essence of God’s story. Always present, never seen, the Spirit functions as a living, breathing metaphor. Through word and plot we may discover meaning. Through emblems such as symbols, signs, designs, or allegories we may discern an order and a plan.
In this great story, the outpouring of thought and feeling has the lyrical form and musical quality of song. The Biblical language offers beats, rhythm and structure. When we tell the story back to God through our writing, singing, art or craft, we worship.
The season of Lent gives us an opportunity hone our heart, mind, and body connections by experience. Observance is a spiritual practice that strengthens faith. To that end, I have chosen 40 Days of Decrease: A Different Kind of Hunger. A Different Kind of Fast. by Alicia Britt Chole as my Lenten reading. The book focuses on “Jesus’ uncommon and uncomfortable call to abandon the world’s illusions, embrace His kingdom’s realities,and journey crossword and beyond.”
I feel as if I have stumbled upon a twofer. I can prepare my heart for Easter with a meaningful daily fast. And, I can balance the increased stress caused by present world conditions with a healthy decrease in engagement.
McNally wisely said in his seminar that signs don’t tell us where to go. Signs tell us to pause and think about where we are. Hitting the pause button once in awhile, be it in our speech or our striving, seems good. At the end of 40 days we can pick up our normal routines with renewed vigor or hit the reset button and try a new path.
If you are an observer, what have chosen to read and/or practice this Lenten season?
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author and poet David Romtvedt details the immigrant experience of an unremarkable Basque woman’s journey. In doing so, he draws a larger point. Merely because we exist on planet Earth, we are remarkable.
Romtvedt writes “…the human world we’ve made often ends up diminishing our humanity.” This is not true of Zelestina. She is as fully human as Adam and Eve. Like them, she will find the strength to live out her days in alien territory. In this case, the foreign land is Wyoming.
Due to displacement, Zelestina’s life becomes a frontier experience. Through literary devices–poetry and historical/theological musing–the author explores the larger context of such a life. But he is most effective when he peers through her eyes.
With a sense of wonder, the author shows us how a young girl develops the resources to survive. He reveals Zelestina’s lasting bond with an American Indian woman whose life history mirrors hers. The two women join forces to seek protection against a violent and clumsy hunter who haunts them.
Thomas Teague represents a predator who pursues them in life and in death. Who is the true predator? The author explores the historical and spiritual roots that connect two cultures. He questions life’s mysteries. Appropriately, he does not propose answers. Instead, he mourns an old woman’s ignoble passing with respect and affection.
Center for Basque Studies
This book is part of the Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno’s Basque Originals series. Publishing fiction is a new venture for the center. Their mission is to keep Basque culture alive in hearts and minds of a people spread out around the world. I only know this because I chose a Basque heritage for the protagonist of my debut novel, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter. It will be published as a Basque Originals in the spring.
Look for vibrant cultural histories in cultural centers, universities, museums, and national parks. Often they make fiction available in their bookstores. You will find little gems like Zelestina Urza in Outer Space.
I can’t help but compare Alice Hoffman’s Shelby Richmond to Lee Chandler, the self-hating protagonist in the film Manchester by the Sea. Both have caused misery to themselves and others. Both have had their hearts ripped out, but in Lee’s case, most of his soul died too. Not so with Shelby. As despairing as the film is, this novel is filled with hope.
We don’t all grow up, but most of us grow older. Maturity and an indomitable spirit are Shelby’s saving grace. Grace and patience and love–a mother’s love and that of a few friends.
Some books are meant to be read by mothers and daughters. This is one. Shelby’s mother Sue is always in the background but, as mothers do, she exerts a force to be reckoned with. In this case, it is gentle support of a healing that will take years.
The only thing I could fault this narrative for is overstatement of the role guilt plays in Shelby’s self-destructive behavior. We know. What I laud the author for is for challenging the dystopian point of view that we are victims of forces beyond our control. People do grow up, move on, and realize their potential.
Alice Hoffman’s Faithful is a cup of water drawn from a well of despair that gives precious hope to those who are thirsty for forgiveness. A beautifully crafted, realistic account of the human condition.
These days, inquiring about a person’s New Year’s resolutions seems akin to asking how they voted. Some grimace, some growl, many abstain. Not so with writers. We tell the world what our intentions are for the coming year.
In our journals, we scribble our desires to improve ourselves, our writing, our communities, our world. We organize our thoughts on 3×5 cards or in apps. Next we rewrite for clarity and edit for punch. Then we write memorable mantras on our white boards and quote poets, sages, and scriptures.
I am still processing my intentions for 2017. I don’t know whether world events (or my own life) will spin out of control tomorrow. But the Christian faith teaches us to face the future with hope, knowing that God’s purpose will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)
Try new things
My partner in the sublime and I have pledged to shake it up this year–challenge some entrenched mindsets by trying new things. Normally we lay low on New Year’s Eve. This time we welcomed 2017 by attending our first performance of the Phoenix Symphony.
I harbor a common attitude that symphonies are dying. To survive, they must educate new audiences in the old ways. The thought that a conductor might be expected to engage an audience with anything other than excellent musicianship? Appalling! How could the big dose of “happy” that guest conductor Stuart Chafetz promised the packed out symphony hall further the cause of classical music?
Well, let me tell you.Read More»