Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

When we glance over our shoulder at our history we see ourselves playacting as children, rehearsing what we’d always known we wanted to be.  Role-playing our future…

The child who, for hours on end, shapes pies and cakes from mud or soft Play-Doh…and thrives today in the bakery business… another wields paintbrush and fills the space of her paper with every color of the rainbow… and now directs an art studio.

The boy who bangs on pots and pans in his mother’s kitchen and grows up to be a drummer… the one who plays G.I. Joe in the backyard and joins the military as an adult… the girl who sings along with her record player and becomes a recording artist herself…

Not everyone makes a living at what they love doing - even though they may live to do it  – but they still recognize their passions and pursuits as a call in life.    

 "Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck.  Your profession is what you were put on earth to do. With such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling."
               ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Last week I asked the question here, “What did you want to be when you grew up?”   Most responses revealed that what we imagined ourselves to be as children is what we still are today.

Jessica did not become an astronaut, but she still seeks to explore the unknown and soar to heights unseen, metaphysically speaking. 

Orea did not become a nurse in a cool white dress and cap… or a nun.   But she’s still on the spiritual healing path.  

Kathy’s dream of living in a little stone cottage surrounded by hollyhocks and craggy rocks by the edge of a wild, windy sea never played out, but today she’s a writer who can live there - or anywhere she pleases - in her imagination.         

Corinne wanted be a housewife and writer.   And my response was… “It sounds like we are married to a house.”   Plus it makes us sound desperate!   So then we decide to come up with a better term: domestic engineer.   

Today Corinne is proud to announce that she is a recent graduate of June Cleaver College and is living her dream.   Give it up for the one and only Corinne Rodrigues!    

Chris is also following his bliss.  From a young age he’s known he wanted to be in the book industry.  And this is exactly what he’s doing today: reading for a living.  But he’s also a writer who is confident that the money will follow.       

Many of us are writers who blog.  Some publish in literary anthologies, journals, magazines, and some are authors of books.   But few of us have quit our day jobs yet.    

The vast majority of those who write are either little known
or unknown hoping to become little known  ~ Brian Doyle

So, given Van Gogh’s statement above that our profession is not necessarily our bread and butter, but rather a passion and a call in life, what is yours? 

What do you do out of pure joy?  And would continue to do if you never received a penny?   

Monday, May 23, 2011

When I Grow Up

No talking “out of turn.”  Understand?   But no, the loquacious child doesn’t understand because she has something to say.
One would think that sitting in a classroom, writing one hundred times, “I must not talk in school, I must not talk in school…” would sabotage any desire to become a writer.  Right? 

Writers are deep in their souls didacts who itch to deliver the Unvarnished Truth and cannot help but unburden themselves of that which burns in their hearts.  Writers are preachers.  
 ~ Brain Doyle

Meet a child who adores her Tell a Tale book, A Child’s 10 Commandments.   This little book on character building inspires her to be a better person, and she in turn hopes to inspire others.  So what does she do but copy the book verbatim…


Word for word she writes the commandments on blue-lined notebook paper and turns it in to her teacher first thing next morning.
 Ms. Lewder sits behind her central desk, peering down through tortoise frames and marveling at this child’s stroke of genius.

You wrote this?   Her teacher asks.   But of course; it is her student’s handwriting.  

What a mastermind to meddle with the schedule and come up with a way to interrupt class… and get to talk too!  The teacher is so impressed (not by the schedule distraction but by the child’s composition) that she asks the girl to stand and read her masterpiece aloud.

Then she escorts her down the hall from classroom to classroom like two witnesses on a divine mission.  Nothing like one captive audience after another…  Until a boy at the back of the last classroom mumbles, “I’ve got that book at home.”
That’s when the girl wants the floor to open up and swallow her whole…and is surprised that it doesn’t.  Lucky for her the teacher can’t hear the boy, so proud she is of her own student’s voluntary labor of love and originality. 

Yeah, that was me, the girl who’s known she wanted to be a writer since second grade.  

And you?   What did you want to be when you grew up? 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

An Open Window

Last weekend I read a few posts by folks either honoring their mothers or lamenting the absence of a mother’s love and nurturing spirit throughout childhood.      

Whatever the case may be, someone raised each of us and instilled values that helped shape who we are today.  Who was that person in your life?   Was it your mother?   A grandmother, an aunt, a father, a foster parent?   What attributes best characterize that individual?  

My own mother was the paragon of virtue.  She never preached her faith but rather lived it daily.  Like St. Francis of Assisi she believed that one should “preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.”  

When my daddy would get angry and fly into a rage, she never competed in a shouting match but handled him like a saint and responded like Mother Teresa. 

Then later she’d whisper to me in private, “See how a soft answer turns away wrath?   If you just ignore him and don’t sass he’ll soon make like a wasp and leave you alone.  Works every time.”        

One early spring day the temperature rose to unseasonable heights and my daddy struggled and wrestled like a madman to lift a window in the house, which seemed to be glued shut from lack of use during the winter months.  

He stood there in a sweat, swearing with every profane word he knew - which always made my mother cringe, especially when he used the Lord’s name in vain. 

 At last she walked over to the window.  “Excuse me.  Let me try.” 

I wouldn’t have believed what happened next if I hadn’t witnessed it with my own eyes.  At the mere touch of her fingertips that stubborn window slid right up automatically like a piece of done toast.   Daddy demanded to know “How in the hell did you do that?” 

My mother never missed an opportunity to brag on God.   “I just reminded myself that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

  What person in your life was the one most influential in your character development?   How would you describe that individual?

Monday, May 2, 2011


Lots of people talk to animals.... Not very many listen, though.... That's the problem.
~ Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

The children gather round, blocking my view.   I run outside to see what spectacle holds their attention, and break through the huddle.   A dove has landed in the middle of my walkway, seemingly paralyzed and still as a small statue.      

Because I think he must be wounded I shoo the children away and reach down to stroke soft feathers.   His onyx eyes hold me suspended in a captive irony for a moment in time.   Then gently he lifts and ascends toward the heavens.       

Today, a dove has shown me how to be still, let go of fear, and simply trust.

To Move or Not to Move

She asks for a sign.   Move to North Carolina or stay in Wisconsin?    Sharon sits on the balcony one fine day when a cardinal lands on the right rail, sits and stares a spell, then flies to the other side.   She dares not move.   He must be here by design.    

Quiet and easy, she slips inside and calls the library.  The cardinal, she is told, is the North Carolina state bird… answered prayer?   A Divine sign to make the move… like Noah’s dove?      

Blindness cannot claim my friend’s inner vision.   Katherine may not see a clear outer view but still has eyes of faith and ears to hear… however God may choose to communicate.   

By Katherine Russell Barnes

His heart is in his preaching
My heart is like a stone
It’s Easter, but for me
The service just drones on.

The prayers seem dull;
The anthems have no ring.
The hallelujahs fall
Like hail in spring.

Is there no hope?
Can nothing heal my heart?
I feel the grip of cold despair;
The postlude soon will start.

When just outside the window
A birdsong rends the air,
So full of joy and wild delight
How can I doubt His care? 

Katherine Russell Barnes is an award winning poet and author of two poetry collections, Lifework of the Heart and Treading Water.

Have you ever received a message from any of God’s creatures?
If so, describe your experience.  
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