Thursday, January 21, 2010

They Say this Guy's Pretty Smart...

...and I agree. A bit of wisdom from this fella' who seemed to understand that intelligence is nothing without creativity...that life is a balance of faith and fact...that any endeavor, great or small, requires imagination.

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. "
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
~~Albert Einstein

Monday, January 18, 2010

Watching the Soap-Opera Network for Philosophical Inspiration?

As you've surely heard, Jack's back. 24 fans everywhere rejoice! Tim and Heidi are again nourishing the dreams of fashion designers and Donald Trump will soon be sending celebrities on scavenger hunts through the city....but it is a lesser known show that has me double-checking times and dates and the TiVo's to-do list.
Being Erica premiered last year on the Soap Opera channel...and though it isn't my usual habit to watch re-runs of Days of Our Lives (Saturday re-runs of 90210 and the O.C. are a different story. A girl has to fold laundry at some point!), I did tune in for this show. The premise caught my eye -- Erica is in her early thirties and she has a mile-long list of regrets up to this point in her life...she's feeling all of those 'what-ifs' and 'should haves' haunting her. Enter Doctor Tom. Dr. Tom is supposed to be a regular old therapist -- but instead of having her talk it all out, he sends her back in time to re-live those regrets. She can change things (barring the general rules of time-travel and wish-granting). She gets a do-over.
Who among us hasn't wished for a do-over once or twice or three thousand times? Wouldn't it be amazing? is and it isn't for Erica, for lots of reasons I won't get into...but for us, it isn't exactly an option.
We make choices and we're stuck with them...whatever our actions might be, the consequences that follow can't be magically erased. And sometimes, life just...happens. We can't control people getting sick or natural disasters or other people making decisions that hurt us. But we do get to choose how we proceed from that point. Every day that we wake up in this world, we've been given a gift of opportunity...we can take our God-given hours (our God-given mercies) and make something out of them. We can learn from our mistakes and see how that knowledge might help someone in our lives...if we keep our eyes open and our hearts willing to move on and embrace what we have, right at this moment, we can live gracefully with the heart-ache...our regrets and mistakes can make us more concious of our actions. More empathetic. More willing to forgive others. Hopefully, more willing to forgive ourselves (which can be pretty hard to do). And if we allow God to heal those hurts...well, at that point, we can have a real victory. Because He truly can turn what has been bad into something good...He can bring beauty from our ashes. I've seen it happen in my own life and in the lives around may not always be immediately, or show-stopping...but it'll happen, like those first flower-buds finally popping out their gorgeous colors just when you think winter's gonna' last forever...
In short, life isn't perfect. We aren't perfect. It's what we do with those imperfections that counts.
This show is a great reminder of that, yes. Though it may seem like an oxymoron, I am watching the Soap Network to learn about real life.

Friday, January 15, 2010

One of Those Paradoxes...

I found this little gem in the middle of Troubling a Star...I'm still soaking it in and I'll leave it for you to consider:

"...until we accept our mortality we cannot even glimpse the wonder of our immortality."
-M. L'Engle

A big thought, isn't it?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Christmas Miracle

So if you've read through any portion of this blog, you know that my favorite writer is Madeleine L'Engle...her imagination is amazing and her faith inspiring. Whether it's her fiction for kids, adults, poetry, personal memoirs, advice on the writing craft, thoughts on God....whatever the subject, she writes with a clarity and purity that gets to the heart of the story. Her novels make me want to read to the last page and go pick up my own notebook and pen...and it's one of my life's goals to own every book written by her. I currently own 15 of about 60....and the latest addition to my collection was a Christmas gift from my parents....The Rock that Is Higher: Story as Truth. I've been reading it slowly in order to savor it...and imagine my delight (by delight, I mean a squealing, jumping-up-and-down, 5 year old on Christmas morning kind of joy) when I randomly flipped to the title page the other day and saw....HER SIGNATURE. The loopy, unmistakable handwriting is RIGHT THERE (For Megs, & her story - Madeleine L'Engle)...which means that this book in my hands was once in hers....that somehow, through what I can only attribute to a miracle, I own a signed copy of a Madeleine L'Engle book. Which may not be a big thing to most people, but it's a huge thing for me. The funny thing is that my mom didn't even realize that she had bought a signed edition -- she just followed my instructions to buy any books from Better World Books (you should, too! this is proof that buying used books is like treasure-hunting!) and randomly picked this particular book (the notes from the seller never mentioned the signature -- maybe it somehow slid by them, too!) I now have this small connection to a woman that, through her work, has become a cherished mentor-ish figure to me...and I think it's one of those small things that she would have smiled about.

If you look here, you'll read the story of another of Madeleine's fans and her signature...and you'll read an excerpt that shows what Madeleine thought about the importance of a name...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Prose from Picasso

"Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth."

Which makes me think of a big point that M. L'Engle makes in her book that I'm reading right now (The Rock that is Higher: Story as Truth)...facts do not always make the truth. Facts can be solid and seem logical, but they do not always take into account the heart or the eternal picture or the knowledge that nothing is impossible to those who believe...which leads to faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen....which leads to hold on. The truth is, in spite of the facts, that the best is yet to come. Events and people and love can unfold like you've never seen, like you've never imagined...God can do above and exceedingly beyond what we can even think to ask...He is art and truth and His creativity is limitless.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Thought On Dreams

"I think a life of wishes, once we are adults, is no life at all. It is one thing, as children, when we are powerless, to turn to stars and wishbones and candles on a cake to make our dreams come true. But as adults, we need none of that. We can take charge of our dreams -- if we dare."
-Barbara Lazear Ascher
----"On Passion," in The Habit of Loving

Friday, January 01, 2010

The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall

2010. I'm looking into the new year and there's a lot I'm hoping to see happen...there are high stakes ahead.
And I can't stop thinking about this documentary I watched the other was all about the Berlin Wall -- the timeline of its creation and of its destruction. It was fascinating to hear about the people who watched this huge barricade by day, they were either being shut in or shut out even more. They watched their home become a prison. At first, they could still see through to other side -- waving at old friends or loved ones...but, eventually, there was nothing to be seen but armed guards and ugly walls.
Oddly, this strange historical story makes me think of someone in my life. There's a person who is dear to my heart and this person is going through an addiction of sorts...and as the days go by, it feels like more and more cement is poured and barbed wire added to the wall already between us. We can still wave -- we can still hear each other -- but it's getting more and more difficult. And I'm so afraid that one day I'll wake up and find that the barricade is too high, that I won't be able to get through without underground tunnels and the speed to dodge the meantime, all I can do is wait. Wait and send notes to the other side so that they'll know I'm still here. Still waiting.
I'm not sure why I'm writing about this here...except that, maybe, I never before knew how lonely it is to watch someone isolate themselves like this. I never knew the helpless feeling...the chronic worry and pain....and if you happen to be reading this and you have your own Berlin Wall going on...just know that you're not alone. You're not alone in the waiting for...I don't know....healing, peace, a miracle....and if there's any resolution worth keeping this year, it's to keep hoping. Because, eventually, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down....with all of my heart, I'm waiting to see the walls in my life fall...and I hope that yours do, too.