Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Faith Worth Believing

These are some excerpts from a book called A Faith Worth Believing by Frank Stella.

The opposite of faith is not doubt, but control. I seek always to be in control of life. I do whatever I can whenever I can to assure predictability. To live with faith involves dying to the self that wants to run the show. Faith asks me to trust that all that occurs in life, no matter how random, how unjust, how hurtful, how disastrous, is not without purpose. Everything is something that, if entered into with an open mind and heart, can mold and shape us into stronger, wiser, holier, more compassionate people. When I live with faith, I move through life with gracefulness, not resistant to, but accepting of what is. This does not imply acquiescence to what might be harmful to myself or others, but requires the willingness to acknowledge the reality of evil, to engage its existence, and to do what I can to lessen the impact.
Hope does not involve either the denial of evil or its glorification; it involves a kind of sacred insanity that is willing to affirm that there is meaning in the madness.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

At 6:40 am I was stepping out of the shower and my husband knocked on the door and said he'd been out at the local Panera to get me my favorite cinnamon roll - but there were fierce winds all night and the power was out there. I thought that worked out perfectly - I got the gift without the calories. Thanks, Babe.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In the Midst of Grace

In an unfathomable universe
I move in free will
Yet constrained in the journey
On the path to heaven

The iniquity I'm drawn to
Fades to prisms of merciful light
Iridescent in His presence
I am loved and forgiven

Awash in complacency
Mired in errors of omission
Transgressions are planted
In my fallow human heart

When I wake up with wings
And pure love is revealed
I revel in the divine truth
That I dwell in the midst of grace

Monday, January 28, 2008

Quote of the Day

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. But remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Epicurus (341-270 BC)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mozart's Birthday

Today is the birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, only three days before my own birthday. I feel a bond with Wolfgang because I had one of the greatest moments of my life because of him. In 2003 I was extremely fortunate to travel to Europe with a choir. My solo in the concerts was Laudate Dominum by Mozart. That by itself was wonderful, but I actually got to sing it in Mozart's church - the Salzburg Dom. The beauty of Salzburg was breathtaking and it had been my dream to go there ever since I was ten and fell in love with The Sound of Music and everything to do with it. I stood in places that Julie Andrews had stood!!!

I do not have a strong voice but I will never forget the moment of singing Mozart in Mozart's church, gazing up at his organ, my voice filling the beautiful cathedral without effort. A once in a lifetime moment.

So today I honor Mozart on his birthday. He'd be 252 years old now. He said,"When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone, and of good cheer - say traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep - it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best, and most abundantly. Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them."

The Dome of Salzburg Cathedral

A white city, a floweret in green hills
and mountainous sheets of rock,
a fortress of turrets and spires guarding
from above, the dome of a cathedral, survivor
of aerial bombings, conspires to heaven.

Inside I tremble before the silent divine.
Mozart's organ, in a tailored balcony
stares at me from its place in the beauty.
The voluptuous sound of music streams
through the communion peace.

Awe resurrects the spirits and I,
insignificant under the immensity of a dome
hovering with angels and saints, open my mouth
and Laudate Dominum comes, saturating a space
too vast for one voice to be heard, but it is.

Mozart's song in Mozart's church.
Nameless and tranquil I rise
into the dome to survey a
frozen moment in my earth-life,
an offering of the Almighty.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fractions of Life

Sometimes it seems like it is not getting any easier - the (mental) institution of marriage, that is. We have absolutely nothing in common. We do not enjoy or find meaning in any of the same things. Our sole commonality is the desire to be together - so we keep talking and planning and praying and dreaming.
He is the numerator and I am the denominator and we mean something completely different when you put us together. He witnesses my inner madwoman and loves me still.
He doesn't hear the lyrics of a song, but my brain immediately zeros in on the words.
On the way home today the CD played a song with the simple refrain -

You, you have been loved by someone good.

That, I know for sure.
That, I have never doubted.
That, is more than anyone should ask for in this lifetime and more than I deserve.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's So Bad About Sex and Violins?

by Elas Giordano

I like Sex and Violins.

I admit the music's slow
and a lot of people will get impatient...
but then, it's not a race, anyway.

OK, people do get hurt this way,
just like everybody says,
but not if your bedroom's big enough
for the musicians to stand back a little.

That way, nobody
ever gets a violin up the nose,
even if things do get out of hand,
or even if the violinist does.

I think a lot of the over-reaction to Sex and Violins
comes from a time when
noblemen blindfolded musicians
before they played - and a lot of people
were maimed.

Besides, I can't wait to get home
from a concert now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Being Human

I have a long list of personal aberrations. Most are livable but annoying. Yet, one experience in disease changed me forever. I do not have it now, but I live with knowledge that my mind and body are capable of it. During a brief but significant period of my life I experienced clinical depression. Not a mild bout of the blues, but a descent into a black pit so deep that hope was a distant memory and I had no idea how to begin to start crawling out. There were months when fantasy and reality were almost indistinguishable, and the sole reason for opening my eyes in the morning was my two children.
Living in the world and not feeling anything is like being dead - except you're not. You are still in the world with people who love you, who have expectations of you, people who care but don't understand, and people who don't care and tell you to snap out of it. But you can't snap out of it any more than you can snap out of the flu or the chicken pox.
It was the worst thing and the best thing that ever happened to me. It changed me for the better. I journeyed out of the darkness to feel more human than I'd ever felt before. I knew myself better and it gave me a permanent ability to empathize with other human being's struggles.
I felt stronger as a woman knowing that, even with professional help and medication, I still had to create the will to live from deep inside me. I was still the one that gathered the massive determination it took to fully heal. I will always regret my children seeing me at my weakest, but I am also aware that they saw me get better and carry on in a new life. When crisis visits their lives, as it surely will someday, I hope they will remember and understand that there is always healing and hope.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Going Solo

I'm a church singer. I've spent my life singing in choirs, church musicals, weddings, funerals and strumming a guitar around (church-related) campfires. I sang a solo in church this morning. The number of times I've stood alone in front of people to sing could possibly be in the hundreds. Yet, every time I'm given that opportunity I go through about a week of emotional agony and intense self-doubt. Preparing and performing expends a huge amount of emotional and mental energy for me. That's the difference between a church singer and a professional singer.
I have a very limited range and ability. My voice is best suited for Mozart or Puccini, so if I'm at a party and there's a piano nearby I can't just belt out any old song - unless the party has a classical music theme or you enjoy singing along in Latin.
Even stranger than my limited repertoire is the fact that I can ONLY sing in church. I've tried singing at parties, bars and even at the school I work at - and I can't do it! I choke miserably and make a total fool of myself. I get the message and I'm fine with being a church singer. But I still find myself - well - I hate to even put this in writing - I find myself giving God ultimatums. Like - if my voice lets me down, if I screw up this time, well, I may never sing a solo again! I can just see God feigning to play a tiny violin with His fingers and holding back the tears.
Actually, I firmly believe that He desires and requires all of us to use what He's given us - big or small. So anyway, today, I sing my solo. All goes well. Thank you. Next the choir is up for the anthem. I am front and center. In the middle of the anthem I must have tilted my folder a little too far forward and suddenly all the music and papers fall out onto the floor in front of me. At least I made the congregation smile. Don't take yourself so seriously Diane.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Quotes of the Day

My mind is my main problem almost all the time. I wish I could leave it in the fridge when I go out, but it likes to come with me. I have tried to get it a nice hobby like macrame, but it prefers to think about things, and jot down what annoys it. Anne Lamott

Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of paper until your forehead bleeds.
Douglas Adams

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I am a Cubist Picasso.
A superball whizz-banging around the room
bruising myself,

about to blow into something
not yet experienced
and spawn a full-blown regret.

I am a dart streaking from the dart gun,
a boomerang that never comes back,
a harum-scarum nomad from a tribe all my own,

an amoeba changing shape moving helter-skelter.
When peeved I will give you a blow-by-blow
description of the tumbleweeds in my brain.

Compartmentalize me and I may explode into a mushroom cloud.
I am a kernal the split second
before it pops into white light.

(This is one of my favorite poems I've ever written.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Timely" Quote

It is better to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Mabel Newcomber

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Get Outta my Way!

I don't know why but I've always been in a hurry - my whole life. I used to blame it on being a mom, but my kids aren't around for me to hurry home to anymore, now are they? I think about it two ways: One, I get a lot of stuff done because I hate wasting time. I'm always done with my work at the crack of 3:45 (the contractual moment we can leave the building). I hurry and get all my weekly chores out of the way on Saturday morning so I can have the rest of the weekend to obsess about this blog. (At one point in my life I had to learn to be okay with forcing myself to waste a little time now and then.)
The second way I look at it is I get a lot of speeding tickets - which is bad. A relative is a cop and he generously hands out FOP cards at Christmas once in a while. I could probably win the World Record for being in possession of that thing the least amount of time. Last year it was a few weeks. This year I had it 13 days before I saw a cop coming the other way then screech his tires to make a U turn so he could follow me until my heart almost burst out of my chest. Then finally the blue lights came on. I pulled over. What the hell do they do in their car for the next 15 minutes while you are sitting there trying not to totally freak? I mean, it's just a ticket, so why do I react as though he were going to jump out his car and start beating me senseless with a billy club?
It gave me time to come up with a plan though. First, I put my seat belt on. Then I retrieved my license, my FOP card and my insurance card. When he walked up to the window I splayed them out like playing cards, with the magic card in the middle. He took them, looked, and said, "OK just slow down."
And he gave the card back to me! So technically I can use it again, but here's the thing - I think my New Year's resolution should be: Driver Slower Dummy!
PS An FOP card is a courtesy card from the Fraternal Order of Police. I guess it's uncool not to honor it among policemen - thank goodness for me!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Scarecrow

"What will you do when Dorothy has left us?"

"I will return to the Emerald City," he replied, "for Oz has made me its ruler and the people like me. The only thing that worries me is how to cross the hill of the Hammer-Heads."

"By means of the Golden Cap I shall command the winged monkeys to carry you to the gates of the Emerald City," said Glinda, "for it would be a shame to deprive the people of so wonderful a ruler."

"Am I really wonderful?" asked the Scarecrow.

"You are unusual,"replied Glinda.
I have a statistic counter so I know how many of you out there read BLUE yesterday - and no one got the gimmick??? Come on. Try again. I'm waiting . . .

Friday, January 11, 2008


Blue is what she remembered about that day. The periwinkle sky and the way it melded into his eyes. They wrapped the Navajo blanket around them in the April chill. A blue jay cawed in the skeleton of the bare branches above. He laid her down on the blanket and she watched as his finger traced the crooked path of veins across her breasts.
She sighed and turned her head towards the violets peeking out of the dead leaves, and reached for the lapis lazuli necklace that had slid behind her head. Out of the blue a US Navy flight team demonstrated their precision in the azure beyond the silhouette of his head. After the roar of the jets dissipated she could hear Lee Ann Rimes singing on the car radio.
"That song is so sad, depressing really. Sometimes the music comes from only the dark notes, you know." She reached for her navy sweater and brushed off her jeans.
"You're not paying attention to me." He grabbed her and pulled her up off the blanket, leaving a bruise on her arm. "What can I expect from a working class girl like you?"
"If you touch me again I will call the police. If you hurt me I will call the hospital and tell them it's an emergency."
On the way home she gazed at the sapphire ring he'd given her long ago, but all she felt was blue.
If you get it send me a comment (it's not rocket science). The magic number is 20.
Now that some time has gone by - if anyone is interested - there are 20 references to the color blue in the story. Nothing profound - you didn't have to be so afraid of guessing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Ode to Writers

Becoming a writer is about becoming conscious. Anne Lamott

I imagine God looking down with his big brown eyes
filtering from his view all but the writers.
Those millions he blessed/cursed with the drive
the compelling wordneed - through the eras and ages.

God noted the spark of hope in every writer
that someone would read the words
in their singular arrangements
and behold the brilliance of the brain.

Even now we are holding pens
we are clawing at paper napkins
we are stuffing our pockets, speaking into recorders
clacking away at keyboards -

and we can't stop
and we can't stop

watching creation spew out of our minds
into our hands
splayed across the screen
something that didn't exist yesterday.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Come Back Snow!

New Year's Day morning - a trace of snow - by evening a towering 10-12" of white teetered on every surface - the deck railings, the picnic tables, the mailbox.

I've been hosting a New Year's Day party since I was a much-too-young bride many, many years ago. This year it was sunny and dry on New Year's Eve and sunny and cold on January 2. But January 1st provided a what-could-have-been snow day and a low turn-out at the party. TODAY is sunny and in the 60's and the snow is gone.

But I still say - Come Back Snow!

Loving winter, for me, has something to do with body image. I'm much more confortable in my long jeans, high-heeled boots and soft sweaters than in cellulite-revealing shorts and flabby upper-arm-baring t-shirts.

Winter's chill covers (some of) my flaws as the snow covers the flaws of our landscaping. It's just white and smooth (kind of how my skin should look).

I'm comforted by winter and the excuse to hibernate. I want to snuggle under a throw blanket with hubby on the love seat with a direct view of the snowy weighed-down branches of the evergreens out the front window.

Come Back Snow!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


There is a great movie called Pleasantville. It is worth renting if you've never seen it. All the people in Pleasantville live a black and white '50's TV show existence. Firemen only rescue stranded kittens, the basketball team never misses a shot, adults sleep in separate beds, women are content to cook and clean. They live in unchanging routines and know nothing of the world outside of their town - until a 1990's brother and sister are transported through the television set into Pleasantville. Through them the town is introduced to art, creativity, change, desire, sex, love and loss. Each person who allows a new experience becomes "colored". Slowly the town blooms into colors. A woman pleasures herself and a nearby tree spontaneously combusts. At first she is ashamed of her color, but later defends it adamantly. The town deals with the chaos of change and many refuse to accept it until it happens to them. People exhibit emotions for the first time.
I love this movie because I understand being mired in a small world of personal delusions and low expectations. It's a little like being brain dead yet somehow still breathing. But it's hardly what I'd call living.
The movie says - be alive in your own time. Turn a different color. It's okay if life sucks sometimes because then you're going to know when it doesn't suck. Banish the small mind that only loves those like you. Hate perfection. Live a real life with real emotions in the real world. Be human, baby.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

New Beginnings

What would we do without new beginnings? A new year, a new season, a new school year, a birthday, a new month - and every new day. All opportunities to start over, to do what we didn't do the last time - or to be the person we couldn't manage to be the day before. The newness of anything amounts to possibility and hope. We hope this school year will be a better experience for our child. We hope it won't rain tomorrow. We hope we'll get a lot more gardening done next summer. We hope we'll get to the gym this year. Let's face it - every morning when we open our eyes we hope for something. We're optimistic creatures. Every morning I hope I weigh less than I did the day before (I don't know why though). Every day it is possible that I will hear the voice of one of my children.
So I'm going to start out the new year with a story that will inspire all of us to just be a better person this year. I've heard it in a church sermon. I found it written in Anne Lamott's book Bird by Bird, where she heard it from Jack Kornfield of the Spirit Rock Meditation Center and he claims it is a true story.
An eight-year-old boy had a younger sister who was dying of leukemia, and was told that without a blood tranfusion she would die. His parents explained to him that his blood was probably compatible with hers, and if so, he could be the blood donor. They asked him if they could test his blood. He said sure. So they did and it was a good match. Then they asked if he would give his sister a pint of blood, that it could be her only chance of living. He said he would have to think about it overnight.
The next day he went to his parents and said he was willing to donate the blood. He was taken to the hospital and put on a gurney next to his sister. Both of them were hooked up to IV's. A nurse withdrew a pint of blood from the boy, which was then put in the girl's IV. The boy lay on his gurney in silence while the blood dripped into his sister, until the doctor came over to see how he was doing. Then the boy opened his eyes and asked, "How soon until I start to die?"