Living in a T.S. Eliot Poem

April is for Lilly, Dolly, Jolly and some foolsphoto © 2008 Challiyil Eswaramangalath Vipin | more info (via: Wylio)

 

Some days, I think I live next door to J. Alfred Prufrock and Sweeney and Madame Sosostris. In the depths of a T.S. Eliot poem, I make my bed, turn on the stairs, and ponder when the season will be right for eating peaches. As an English grad student, I ventured into the an Eliot class, unassuming and ignorant of the majority of his writings. Sure, I knew Prufrock and the Magi and the first several lines of The Waste Land:

April is the cruelest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain,

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow—The Waste Land

 

But, I never understood why “April is the cruellest month.”

What could be so horrid about Spring in bloom, the budding of fruit trees, the dormant tulips and daffodils pushing their way through the loamy earth? The thrust of new life coming forth, but how is this cruel? Spring is the most violent time of year, particularly April. As the rain showers nourish the seeds, the sprouts launch forth from the earth like rockets, leaving a path of destruction. Granted, the violence of Spring is so small that we hardly notice it. But it is there.

Spring reveals the truth that winter sought to hide.

Buried and forgotten, Spring brings to light truth in nature and sometimes our lives too. But truth can be just as sinister and violent as Spring. Truth doesn’t always reside in the flowerbeds of life, but lurks deep in some of the foulest, murkiest places. Just waiting for a chance to rise to the top, and wreck havoc, violence just like Spring waits quietly underneath “forgetful snow.”

 

So, why do we associate Spring and truth with non-violence and beauty?

 

 

Women Writing Well

 

 

Today’s post is my first vlog attempt. Please be kind!

I mentioned several books that you may want to add to your collection. So, here are the necessary links to Amazon so you can purchase copies for yourself.

Sandra Bost’s book Massanutten Mansion

Rachel Held Evans’s book Evolving in Monkeytown

Anne Jackson’s book Permission to Speak Freely

Building a Better Story

Every December, some Facebook application comes out with the “my year in status updates.” The year of 2010 narrated by me…I wrote each status, posted it daily or even hourly…the story of my year compressed into one image.

After reading Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,” I find myself drawn to the concept of story—what makes a good story, who is telling a good story, how does a story become better. Like any piece of writing, story must be pruned, edited, chosen purposefully what elements remain within the construct of story. And story is individual, unique to each of us…we can’t simply pattern out story after anyone else’s and hope for the best. But story is still an abstract idea. Sure, it sounds wonderfully uplifting to choose a better story, making each scene of our life better than the last scene, culminating with a grand entrance into that “unknown country.” Putting flesh and bone to the abstract concept of story is much harder.

Growing up in church, I learned that if one opportunity or thing I wanted didn’t work out that God had something so much better for me, something more exciting than I could dream up. For years, this was my comfort—when I didn’t get the job I wanted, when I didn’t get what I had prayed for etc. Something better was always around the next corner. But what if it is not? What if there is simply just routine around the next bend in the road? No new job opportunities, no new exciting whatever…would we still be content if God chose a story for us that rested solely in the mundane?

As Americans, more than likely not. We want more exciting lives, constantly grasping for what is better and seemingly out of reach. We convince ourselves that God ‘s plans always include breaking away from the routine of life—eating, sleeping, basically daily living. What if building a better story isn’t all about choosing more exciting actions or scenes or opportunities. What if building a better story rests in the moments when we are thankful for the mundaneness of our lives, for the moments of waiting, for the moment when we keep our hands open rather than grasping for new things.

Question: How do we build a better story?

What Are You Reading Wednesday?

Books of the Pastphoto © 2007 Lin Kristensen | more info (via: Wylio)

Sitting in my comfy blue recliner, sipping the lovely creamer rich coffee, reflecting upon the upcoming day–I have become more enamored with the quiet stillness of mornings. Chilly mornings always make me thankful for a warm bed and even more thankful for a large mug of coffee. For me, cold fall and winter mornings should be best spent snuggled up in a thick blanket, sipping coffee, and reading.

Today, I am reading Mary DeMuth’s book Thin Places. So far, her words are healing, beautiful, and filled with blessings.

Question: What are you reading today?

For Those Days….

We have all had one of those days! At some point, we need to laugh, cry, think, or just simply stay in our pajamas all day, drinking coffee, and reading a novel…

ON this my last day of being 28, I would love to stay in my pajamas, snuggled up with my puppies, and read since the weather is gray, rainy, and perfect weather for laziness. But I can’t.

So, today, I’m giving your something funny…

Something to make you cry….

Something to make you think….

Question: What things are you thinking about, listening to, or writing? Share your blogs, thoughts, whatever you like….

Why I Write…

Why I Write….

I write to give life to the ideas swirling inside my head…

I write to free my soul from the death grip my nagging inner monologue of doubt has on it…

I write because I have a love affair with the English language—its beauty, its complexity…

I write to express my faith, my doubts, my fear…

I write to ask the questions no one in church says out loud…

I write to gain perspective on what I think I know, what I do know, and what I need to know better…

I write…

Why do you write? Or better, Why do you NOT write?

Pitching an Internet Sized Temper Tantrum

Today on Anne Jackson’s blog, she wrote about how she is a person not a brand. As a successful blogger and author, she can’t always respond to everyone’s comment, tweet, or email. I love her blog, her writing, so much so I subscribed so I wouldn’t miss a post. But I am horrible as a commenter, not because she has never responded, but the usual mundane business of life gets in the way. When I read the comments on her blog, I realized how many other people expected a comment or response. Which begs the question:

Are we bloggers only commenting/tweeting etc. for what we gain from it?

I wish the answer wasn’t YES, but we are selfish beings. And I don’t sit here accusing anyone because I can be just as bad or the worst when it comes to this area. We are more interested in using people for our own gain–if I guest post for a super huge blog then my stats will go up, if I comment only on blogs with lots of followers then I might just get more followers, if I review this blogger’s book then I will get more comments on my blog. And heaven help the world if that poor blogger doesn’t comment on the awesome, super sweet book review. We become bitter when our expectations are NOT met because all of those expectations were found upon a self-centered, self-loving, selfish perspective.

We are upset that we aren’t winning the blogging popularity contest so we pitch an internet sized hissy fit. No longer do we comment or tweet another blog because they NEVER responded to our hurried comment or even well-though comment. We grumble and complain when we tirelessly and sometimes annoyingly Retweet a blog promotion only to get no response.

So, we act like a child stamping her foot in ground and throwing ourselves a pity party. If she won’t comment on my blog, then I won’t comment on hers. There’s maturity right there for you. But we don’t have to act on our selfish impulses. We can choose to encourage rather than selfishness. We can remind ourselves why we read blogs, write blogs that it is more about building relationships than self-promotion.

Today, I choose to encourage other bloggers through kind comments, loving emails, or the encouraging tweet.

What are you Reading Wednesday?

Welcome to another edition of “What are you READING Wednesday?”

Today, I’m focusing on blogs. Yes, reading other people’s blogs does count. I decided to highlight some of my personal favorites, and feel free to add your own blog link in the comments.

1. One Hand Clapping by Julie Clawson

2. Evolving in Monkey Town by Rachael Held Evans (also has a book coming out this summer)

3. Pennies and Blessings by Mandy( I went to college with her way back in the day at Tennessee Temple).

4. Revelant blog by Mary DeMuth

5. Sister Wisdom by Annie ( I will be guest posting there soon)

6. Forever Family by Brandy

7. The Conversion Diary by Jennifer

8. My Fellow Word Warrior by Veronica
9. Emerging Women
10. Like a Warm Cup of Coffee by Sarah Mae

Question: What blogs do you read? Where do you blog?

What are YOU Reading Wednesday?

I must confess that I had almost forgotten about “what are you reading Wednesday.” Between editing emails, writing a guest blog post, and attempting to have both kids focus on their schoolwork, I didn’t organize, plan, or execute a blog post. Sorry, forgive me…I’m human….

So, what have I been reading?Today, I have been pouring over Emily Dickinson’s poetry, in particular, Poem 593:

I think I was enchanted
When first a sombre Girl —
I read that Foreign Lady —
The Dark — felt beautiful —

And whether it was noon at night —
Or only Heaven — at Noon —
For very Lunacy of Light
I had not power to tell —

The Bees — became as Butterflies —

The Butterflies — as Swans —
Approached — and spurned the narrow Grass —
And just the meanest Tunes

That Nature murmured to herself
To keep herself in Cheer —
I took for Giants — practising
Titanic Opera —

The Days — to Mighty Metres stept —
The Homeliest — adorned
As if unto a Jubilee
‘Twere suddenly confirmed —

I could not have defined the change —
Conversion of the Mind
Like Sanctifying in the Soul —
Is witnessed — not explained —

‘Twas a Divine Insanity —
The Danger to be Sane
Should I again experience —
‘Tis Antidote to turn —

To Tomes of solid Witchcraft —
Magicians be asleep —
But Magic — hath an Element
Like Deity — to keep —

What are you reading? Poetry, Children’s books, Novels, Blogs… Why did you choose those texts?

Much Love,

Sarah Jessica