Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Day

The Wisconsin landscape is ablaze with white, our fields scoured and glistening under the intense chill of a sub-zero day. The library was closed today, so the Norwegian church records and the obituaries in piles on my desk must wait one more day. I miss them already.

Today was a robe and hot cocoa day, a pasta and prayer day, a day of comfortable silences and pens scratching against paper. The cat skittered across the floor, no doubt pretending he was romping through his own winter wonderland, joyful that his two humans were home. Four dark-eyed juncos pecked at seed on our balcony, clearly taking great enjoyment in plundering the free food.

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At my great-grandmother's table, I read essays by Barbara Tuchman for class, knocked backward by the force of the voice and soul erupting from her words. In an instant, I felt again that passion for what I do, the reminder of why I study, why I surround myself with documents and records. Like a bloom from a snowbank, her compelling essay reawakened in me my own stories of library stacks and childhood books and life-changing moments that led to my love for history, for a good story, for writing. And she made me yearn for more.

With dusk creeping over the fields, I turned to the kitchen, squeezing pleasure from the simple act of creating in silence, cutting garlic and sifting oregano with joy in my fingers and prayers in my head.

Life is often so much rushing, so much doing. I'm actually grateful for the snow and the cold today. It made us stay still, listening to each other and ourselves, counting the time in words read and cocoa sips and meals made, rather than seconds or minutes or to-do lists. I need to seek these days out more, in which my soul finds the permission to do what it needs and wants, to go nowhere, to find the beauty in home routines.

Be still, be still, be silent and still, for there the sacred is found.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No Rules

The conversation flew like the snow outside the window as we tossed words from one to the other. Without leaving our chairs, we wandered down the paths of womanhood and motherhood and jobs and passions, poking our heads around bends in the road and relaying our observations. Distracted as I was when she walked through the door, I felt that skip of delight that I had almost forgotten. Most of my soulmates live miles from my door and after awhile, I don't even realize I've gotten used to that void and forget the face-to-face. This morning, I remembered. Remembered what it is to have a friend drop in, to begin anywhere, to drift lazily at sea among an ocean of words and laughter. Hopscotching from topic to topic, pulling each other up and giving each other a little push.

Every day, I miss the blond with the fiery resolve and infectious laugh who holds my secrets. I miss the curly-haired one with whom I shared food, an apartment, and millions of every-day moments. I miss the talented, quiet brunette who first sat next to me junior year. I miss the sister of my blood and my soul. They are part of me always. I miss, but I am learning how not to let the distance define us. I'm moving from missing to accepting. From regret to appreciation, as we work together, tugging and pulling, forcing that distance to shrink. And I revel in the fact that I have one friend I don't have to miss yet, the dark-haired creative artist that I can visit anytime.

Tonight, my feet are warmed by slippers made with a sister's love. My best friend's faces laugh up at me from the frame on the coffee table. And the morning holds a particular smile, and a reminder that friendship is not a limited space with defined rules, but an ever-widening sphere that can encompass it all- the far, the near, the lonely, the fulfillment, the memories, the future. I have everything. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Worktable

The words in my head simmer and bubble and boil. I give them another quick stir and lean in to observe the ways they twist and reshape themselves. Ideas still sit on the counter, rising slowly under their tea towel. Hot with impatience, words start to jump from the pot. Why are they always ready before the ideas are?

The snow comes down and the world is white with inspiration. I stir and measure, knead and sift, filling the winter morning with carols and prayers and memories, content to be at my mind's worktable. I dip my hands in, ready to create something from nothing. As I grind and chop and peel, the pile of words grows taller and taller. Soul, mind, and hands work in happy unison. All is peace. All is joy.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Beginning

Several days ago, I came upon a quote from Zora Neale Hurston: "There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you." I bookmarked it, wrote it in my quote journal, shared it with friends because that is a truth that I know all too well. I have no novel simmering in my head, but that urge to write is one that follows me from dawn to dusk. Too often, I feel the itch in my fingers that begs me to pull out my journal or clack away at my keyboard. But for the past several months, I've found myself ignoring these impulses, pushing them out of mind, not because I didn't want to write but because I couldn't settle on what to write about. I needed to write, physically suffering from the lack of creating words, but I had dammed the flow because I was stuck.

For two years, I have written a blog that has kept me happy and busy, but for the past few months, I felt my motivation stagnate. Too much pressure, too much obligation. It was a themed blog, though I had often strayed from that theme, feeling myself restricted by my own creation. While I loved writing it, it was no longer what I needed.

So the solution is a new blog, a new writing platform for me alone. While I welcome readers, I am not writing for invisible eyes anymore. No sticking to themes or topical essays. No attention to length or detail. I want to let the words flow through my fingers; I want to throw off the mental restraints I've put on myself and let my words free. A true writing exercise, with no emphasis on what the content of that writing will be. To challenge myself further (but with no obligation or guilt), I am pushing myself to write at least once a week, even if it's only four sentences strung together. Because the point is not the finished product, but the process.

"Pilgrim Soul" will be a platform where I can explore my life, my world, my thoughts and impressions any way I wish. The title, while a line from one of my favorite William Butler Yeats poems, also evokes travel- through life, through the world-, a sacred space, and a journey. I want my writing to be all of those things- something that feeds me, that lets me explore and wander, grow and learn. I couldn't be more excited.


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