Here I Sit

The act of writing itself carves out space for beauty in my life. This has always been true, but without the pretention of doing something big and important, I can relax into whatever shows up on paper—the mess and joy and struggle and grief and giggles of life. These are not the habits of a serious writer, of course. These are not the daily practices and evaluations needed to send a piece out into the world, just as letting the garden go to the wild won’t work as a long-term strategy. But this is what writing is to me right now, how I remember that writing starts with glimpsing into a world of magic, that it starts with, “Here I sit.”

Finding Voice

When I place a record on the turntable, something in me slows down. It simply will not do to continue the multitasking that consumes most of my days and some of my nights. This is not background music for grading; it is an experience. I must listen. And as I listen, the experience threads its way into the busyness of my everyday. As I listen, the crackle and hiss of the turntable’s voice lets me into the wild soul of the music.

Heading Home

Baseball is the embodiment of hope—a sense that is depleting with each new ailment my grandparents suffer. Every batter that approaches the plate is like a new mercy with the potential of fixing all of the previous wrongs. Baseball is the game for the most moderate of hopefuls - if the batter hits the ball at least one out of every three attempts, we call him great. That’s the sort of expectation my grandparents have lived in their lives, never hoping for too much, but working their hearts out to stay above too little. Now, as their physical capacity to enjoy life fades a little bit each day, they’re hoping for a little relief from nine innings of possibilities.

What are We if Not Burdens?

It is obtusely modern to avoid the appearance of being a burden to anyone, least of all those we call friends. Neediness reeks of weakness, and vice versa, and there isn’t much space for needy people in our self-confident, never-enough culture. An emotional wreck myself, I admit to the failure of isolation and individualism. Rather than having admitted any sort of need, I’ve taken shelter in the false forests, crawling along its trails with a backpack much too heavy, snuffing out the wisps of grief, raking the carcass of shame across the embers of anxiety, and making meals out of burden.

The Anxious Agitator: Martin Luther

Martin quotes Jesus, who said, “Do not be anxious, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things.” As we amble through the grass, I picture Martin as the young man who bolted across this very meadow, caught in the stormy terror of God’s wrath. Here he is, speaking of grace. I know that it’s not easy for him. But he offers that grace to me, all the same.

The Full Spectrum

There is only one element I don’t want here in this jumble of life that is suddenly, surprisingly beautiful to me. Except sometimes I do want it, when the autism augments the good of who my daughter is without adding to her misery, that same misery we all know in one way or another during this life between Edens. What I want is for the autism to diminish, and if it can’t do that in her bodily experience, then at least it can grow smaller within the space it takes up in my imagining and understanding of this wonderful girl. I don’t yet know how to relegate it to its proper place, but I am hopeful. If my favorite house is the messy one now, then I can change and grow, too.

The Dilemma of Desire: Juana Inés de la Cruz

You haven’t heard of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz? You can blame it on centuries of storytellers, the ones who’ve recounted the intellectual traditions of men and ignored the silent and silenced contributions of women. Your ignorance is no surprise. Even in her own day, Juana’s bold public voice was hushed by bishops and priests. It’s been 350 years since she lived, but it’s not too late to bring Juana back. Her words have been here all along.

The Pecan Orchard

The Orchard stands at the end of the road. Waiting. Solid, robust, kindly, full of route and routine, of dank pockets where rain has padded the soil, of the sound of small, dry leaves shaken by the wind. Oh, all the stories I played there: it was a kingdom of the imagined, an arena of the kind of grace that allows for further creation—however misplaced, silly, phantastical, fleeting, and even unreal. 

I’ve Loved This

I have not liked it here, and I’ve felt guilty about not liking it here: I know I should be grateful for a roof over my head, a safe and warm place to sleep, enough money to pay the rent and other bills. I know we were lucky to have six years in our previous place, and to leave it on good terms. Yet I’ve missed the old place and struggled to find reasons to love the new. It has not felt like home, though we’ve adjusted, done our best to make it work. But now, ironically, as we prepare to leave, I’m realizing what I have liked, even loved, about this place. 

All Who Enter Here

When I was younger I came to this plot of land for years—almost 25 in a row—roaming the grassy shoreline, rowing around lily pads and tree stumps poking through the pond water, and running sweaty laps up and down Forshee Road. As an adolescent, I bloomed in the sensual soil of this place. I thrived during weeks like this one now, when I was the child vacationing here with my parents, brothers, and sisters. Year by year, we formed a kind of family liturgy, a joyful way of being together that transcended the reality of the modest little cabin and weedy pond.

What Light There Is

I have become, in the past few years, a seeker of the light. Now that it doesn’t pour over my shoulders each day, unasked and abundant, I’ve learned to keep an eye out for it. I can’t make it appear, but I still crave it, and I am learning to watch for—and appreciate—what light there is. 

Testing Siri

What I love the most about Siri is if I make a mistake—a wrong turn, for example—she doesn’t tell me. She just finds a new path for me without saying, “re-calculating.” Sometimes, I’d make a mistake on purpose, just to see if Siri could find me and figure out what to do with me next. She always did. Only a few times has she told me to, “proceed to the route,” and I do, wondering only for a moment if her robotic female tone sounds mildly snarky and exhausted with me.