Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Wannabe Miracle Worker

Have you ever found yourself in a situation of total helplessness, knowing that something drastic needed to be done, but you were unable to lift a finger to change the circumstance and felt paralyzed by your lack of command over the sad state of affairs?  
And you knew that nothing short of a miracle would save the day?   Feel alone no more.                 
A sunny, blue-sky day when all is tranquil and bright.  A perfect moment for taking my black lab to the quiet peaceful lake for a long walk.  Where geese glide across still waters without a care in the world…
 Until I make the mistake of unleashing Rip for a split second, then watching in horror as he takes off like a rabbit and speeds toward the water, sending a gaggle of geese scattering skyward and honking louder than the trumpet of God at the second coming.  
A man stands in his solitary spot, fishing and minding his own quiet business, witnessing this disruptive scene in silence.  I gaze in shock as my dog paddles across the lake, pretending he’s deaf and ignoring my bellowing commands to “COME RIP!”  And oblivious to my shrill, non-stop whistling.
Now all that’s visible of my dog is his head and chin gliding across the water, diminishing by the minute as he swims out of sight.  All the while these shocked and peeved geese still sound the alarm, alerting all creatures for miles around of imminent danger.
Shock gives way to embarrassment.   What to do now?   I can’t up and leave my dog at the lake.  He must think he’s died and gone to heaven, but wait ‘til I find him… just wait.  I mosey over to the fisherman for lack of anything better to do, and state the obvious.  “How’s the fishing going?”
You’d have thought I was a bee by the way he stands there stone silent at my presence, waiting for me to buzz off.  Without batting a lid or turning my way he simply says, “It was alright.”  Omitting, until you came along. 
No matter how many times I mentally pray the words, Peace be still, Peace be still, the geese remain flustered and the fisherman goes home out-of-sorts and empty-handed.   Near dusk my water-logged dog shows up and I drag him into my freshly vacuumed car and drive away. 
So what does all this have to do with Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller and becoming a miracle worker?   Boot camp training, that’s what.  Stay tuned for Where the Wild Things Are. 
Now for the question of the day.     
When have you experienced a moment of downright helplessness and total desperation?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Defining Moments

Do you remember a defining moment in time when the earth shook under your feet and jolted you awake from your unconsciousness?  
Or it may not have been so dramatic as an earth-shaking instant, but perhaps it was a more subtle shift in awareness, a mere seed planted in the psyche that grew to reach for the sky while you slept, like Jack’s magic beanstalk.    
Defining moments come unbidden, like a sudden storm that catches you in the pouring rain and drenches your whole being.   Or like a stray cat that quietly shows up at your door and welcomes himself into your life, invites you to adopt him and claim him as your own.  
Moments like these come any time, any place, when and wherever they please.  Maybe you were reading a book, or watching a movie, or taking a walk, or sitting in church, or chatting with a friend.
Maybe you had a dream that changed the course of your life, like Martin Luther King Jr. 
Do you recall a certain moment in time when you were altered by a thought that hit you like a tornado, or either crept in gently like the dawning of a new day?
Most of us have had a number of these defining moments that appeared out of the blue to help shape our character.  Certain movies possess the capacity to awaken and stir the soul to action, like Pay it Forward, which aroused a movement.   Or Field of Dreams, which inspired a frame of mind.

Have you ever sat spellbound while viewing a movie, and afterward felt that you were moving through the actors’ world, walking in their shoes, living in their fictional dream?
Well I have, more than once.  As a child I sat mesmerized in front of our TV and watched Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke portray Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller in the movie, The Miracle Worker.   This was a defining moment for me.   A desire was born that day. 
I grew up wondering what it would be like to live in a world of silence.  Every time I heard a train whistle, a clap of thunder, the crash of waves on the shore, the beauty of music, the singing of birds, the sound of rain, I wondered.  
Could I become a miracle worker?  Why not?  Annie Sullivan transformed a feral and willful child into a warm-hearted, intelligent girl.  And Jesus, a big-league miracle worker, even opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.
 Long story short: I responded to the call and set out on the journey of hope.  But I’ll save my miraculous adventures for another day.   You’ll have to wait for another carrot, or an apple.   I won’t shove the whole bale of hay down your throat at one time.   So stay tuned…
 How about you?  What has been a defining moment in your life?  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Literary Friends

At first they had tea parties with their dolls in the back room of the building.  The girls stayed and played among themselves in that snug art gallery amid the paintings…

Suppertime back home

Bird Watching

Carolina Sunset


Snow Master

 …. while the grown-ups mingled up front with their chai tea, smoothie, or steaming hot espresso.  Take your pick.  Max served drinks suitable for every taste bud under the sun.  

 On open mic poetry nights at Luna Bean a diversity of folks showed up to read their favorites, everything from free verse to rap to classic. 

When my friend Nancy first showed up with her niece Kayley (and her doll Kaya), she described the place like this.

“The ambiance is instantaneous – am I in Paris, London, Greenwich Village? 

“Soft mystical music, dim lights, adobe-colored walls covered by works of art.  Pottery and wood carvings lining the mantel of the fireplace.  At small, hand-painted round tables or on easy chairs and welcoming sofas gathers the most eclectic, congenial, multi-talented group of people I have ever encountered. 

It was magic, it was unbelievable, and I soon discovered it was Max – Max with the welcoming hug and smile, the whirring coffee machine, the art of making you feel special, welcome, at home.   Max, who served free ice cream cones to the homeless every afternoon.   

Here in a small southern city in the angst of economic depression, racial mistrust and fear, wracked by senseless murders that have shaken all of us to the core, drugs, gang influence, have and have-nots  - we have come together week after week – the hopeful, the believers, like moths to the flame of Max and the Luna Bean.”    

Soon the girls abandoned their dolls and joined the poetry readings.  It was at the Luna Bean where my daughter developed her stage presence.  

Amid paintings of Native Indians in their pure, unadulterated habitats, and dozens of mythical motifs that engaged the imaginative eye, she tested her wings and learned to fly.     

Flying Free

Against All Odds

Southwest Art

The Wolf I Cry For

Eagles Cry Too

 Every week we joined the gathering of poets reading everything from Rumi to Redmond, from  Shakespeare to Seuss.  She read the works of Emily Dickinson as well as her own creations. 

Every genre was applauded passionately, regardless.  This was the place to shed reserve and shine like the noonday sun.   

Then one day the Luna Bean just up and closed.  Just like that.  Abi said, “The heart of Wilson stopped beating when the Luna Bean closed.” (She borrowed this line from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café). 

Its purpose had been served.   Poetry 101, a fait accompli.  The good news is that the friends she’d met at the poetry readings continued writing and sharing their work with each other. 

We met weekly at a local Italian café and the girls sat at their own table and read to each other their latest writing.  They read short stories, poems, and novel excerpts… 

Until one of the young authors fell ill and was in and out of hospitals for several months… which turned into years. 

Another heartbreak for Abi, who lamented, “I miss my friend.  I want the old Kayley back.  The one who sits patiently while I read my stories and pretends they are the greatest.  The one who cheers me on and encourages my writing.”

This is the girl who’d written with a passion and thrived on creativity.  The girl who won poetry competitions, crafted jewelry, sang, danced, and acted with Abi in A Little Princess.  

But some friendships are meant to last. The literary friends reunited and celebrated Kayley’s sixteenth birthday on the eve of Christmas Eve 2010.  Nancy and I took off and let the girls hang out and enjoy their time together.  Once again. 

A special thanks to Horace Raper for allowing us a glimpse into his awe-inspiring art gallery.  His paintings once graced the walls of Luna Bean and filled its space with captivating charm.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Whispering Snow

Snow begins to fall one evening on the heels of Christmas day.   I witness in glee the promised drift of flakes through street lamps while my household soundly sleeps. 

Morning creeps in to reveal a landscape buried in foot-deep brightness.   
 My daughter grabs her Canon and tramples in slow motion through wonderland… 

Reindeer in sheep’s clothing

Footprints in the snow…
I thought you were supposed to carry me when the going gets tough!

Picnic cancelled
Tables frosted like tall wedding cakes 

America the beautiful 

The silence of snow
Music to my ears

Is it just me, or does anyone else sense the presence of God with more acuteness in the silence of snow, when we slow down the harried pace long enough to hear His whisper?
Yesterday, Glowingirl at Sugar Tails introduced me to this hauntingly beautiful song, Winter Snow.  
You came like a winter snow, yes, you did
You were quiet, you were soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below

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