I’m spending January, February, and half of March trying to make friends with Mr. Mahler’s symphony number 3. It is one of those prickly personalities that are difficult at first, but I’m certain will be worth knowing in the long run. At the moment, though, we are still in the getting-to-know-you-and-your 4, no, 6, no, 5-flats-and-your-bewildering-harmonics stage.
And somehow, the month of January, usually the one I find to be the slowest of all, has slipped by. I’ll get this one post in before the calendar page turns again.
Where have I been, then, if not in the forest?
Well, Mr. Mahler has something to answer for. And my project with HeyScience! is hustling like a herd of turtles towards a deadline. And I’ve found a local writing group to join, which is marvellous. Each week we discuss a few pieces submitted by group members and the comments are both insightful and inspiring. I’ve learned a lot already and will be expanding and growing my collection of pieces.
My collection? Oh yes – this is my project: a series of stories and essays about adventures in the Rocky Mountains. You’ve seen some of them here. Others are in various stages. Sort of memoir-based, but sliding into fiction when it suits the writing better. I’ll keep you posted.
In the meantime, be on the lookout for snowdrops.
Christmas Eve makes me think of thresholds, standing at a border, knowing that the dawn will bring anticipated, but unknown changes.
What other thresholds do we cross?
Of what significance are the moments just before you close your eyes on the known, understanding that you will wake to the new?
I live in Cambridge, UK. One of the most famous Christmas traditions here is the service of carols and lessons from King’s College Chapel on Christmas Eve. Each year, the 3 pm service is broadcast live to millions around the world. Since 1919, the service has always started with a lone treble chorister singing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.
The choirmaster doesn’t tell the choristers who the soloist will be until seconds before the carol starts. All the boy sopranos need to be ready to sing, and when the time comes, the choirmaster looks directly at one and gestures for him to step forward. There is no time to get wound up or lost in nerves; the singer is surprised into song.
Today, go back to your writing wish list from 11 December. Choose one of the pieces you listed and surprise it into being. Give it no time to waver or stall, nod to it with supreme authority: ‘You. Now.’
And start writing.
Kitchen towels handwoven by Marilyn Webster, whimsyandtea.com, photo credit, Paige Green, paigegreenphotography.com
Exerpt from Thich Nhat Han, Peace is Every Step.
Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane. I must confess it takes me a bit longer to do the dishes, but I live fully in every moment, and I am happy. Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end–that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them.
What is one thing you can do right now to make this moment more present to you?
It is the solstice. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, it is the longest night of the year, the shortest day. After today, the tilt of the earth brings us back into favour with the sun, days will grow longer, there will be more light, more warmth. And in the southern hemisphere, it is the peak of summer, generous light drenches the day. A summit has been reached.
How do you recognize when you’ve passed a turning point? How do you mark it?
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree
Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I’ll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams.
- Songwriters: KENT, GANNON, RAM
This weekend marks the start of some of the busiest travel days of the year. Why do we travel great distances to reunite lives that tend to unspool in different directions for most of the year? What is the importance of reunion? Can you tell me a story about coming home?
(And if you really must hear a bit of Bing, listen here)
Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence, and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.
- Okakura Kakuzo, The Book of Tea.
Make yourself a cup of tea, hold the mug in your hands and breathe deep. Then write of the beautiful foolishness of things.
p.s. soughing is not a spelling error – it’s a word!