I have started a blog over on tumblr: in the multitude of my thoughts within me . Some content is overlapping, some is additional. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. But you are welcome to bounce over there for a look-see!
Author Archives: Jeanne
It is very quiet. There is the white noise, its variations almost indistinguishable, which I know to be produced by the refrigerator behind me and the washing machine and dryer closeted in the laundry room beyond the kitchen wall. The trees on the fencerow, cedar and perhaps pine, are waving noticeably outside the window beside me, but I can’t hear the wind. It was blowing a stout breeze when I went walking earlier this morning, rippling the surface of the pond from the south-west across until it hit the vast tracts of weeds that are barely submerged in the shallow water out from the banks; it wasn’t blowing hard enough to push the little waves through and all the way to the edge.
I am sitting in the kitchen in the quiet house, alone, thinking about patience. Someone just left, obviously off-kilter, seeming so frustratingly set on perpetuating their own sense of despair and rejection. However, at the moment, I’m not feeling frustrated.
I said I have been thinking about patience, but really, I’ve been feeling patience. This is what it means to be present for someone who is emotionally out of control: patience. It becomes something tangible, in the deep breaths and the self-calming, the recalibrating of my own stress level.
And while I spent a whole long paragraph describing my environment, a short one describing another disregulated person, and have left a few short lines for a description of my subject, I hope you realize that all of these things are a description of this thing: the quiet of the house, the autumn day, they are an expression of God (love is patient), His own patience welling up to meet me, large enough to receive my fear, my pain, my despair, my rejection; responding rather than reacting, reflecting back love—love—love—love. He is firm, I cannot shake Him with my own desperation; He takes it, absorbs it, and reflects back a peace and a joy true and unwavering. This is patience, and in receiving, I am enabled to turn to another and give.
It is official. I have finished a hat. I am a knitter. Yay!!!!
(Please disregard the graffitied wall, incorrect date, visible knitting errors and large nose. Please do regard the pretty Marjolein Bastein poster. And the nice red yarn. Red and Hats just go together, don’t you think?)
Posting this seems oh-so-ridiculous, considering the drivel that has preceded it. Thankfully my (miniscule) audience tends to be exceedingly loving, forgiving, and strongly prejudiced in my favor. Sometimes writing– or at least, posting!– does indeed take courage. Even little blog posts, and especially when we are talking about ourselves.
I write because the written word is my voice. I am frustratingly handicapped when communicating orally and extemporaneously. There are bright, beautiful moments when what comes out mirrors what I am trying to get across, and then there is a lot of scrabbling around for words and coming up short. And once they come out, there is no editing. It is impossible to erase or replace what has been said. Of course, this is exactly what the process of writing consists of: scrabbling around for words, then erasing and replacing and rearranging until the page, paragraphs, sentences and letters metamorphose into a mirror image of that inner thought… or rather become the perfect form which carries that thought into another mind, and releases it to be realized anew.
I also write because there is something that pushes me to create, and language is the artistic medium in which I feel most at home. Reading certain passages from East of Eden reminds me of standing before a massive, exquisitely executed scene painting. It is breathtaking, not so much for the story the words describe, but the way they saturate my whole being: words that have taste and texture, that burn in bright colors. John Steinbeck spoke with his own voice, and somehow he made poetry with deliberate prose. Jane Austen crafts her pictures so masterfully, and yet so very slyly: first, you find yourself immersed in a flood of words; then you come out again on the other side of the paragraph, and find that the meaning, the clear and sparkling thought, has insinuated itself into your head. You see.
So then: for me, to write is to speak with my own voice. To write is to craft art through the medium of language.
There is a strand of blue yarn, unwound from one of those first knit swatches, strung across a wall in my room. From it, by paper clips, hang in vertical uniformity 3×5 index cards inscribed with dates and events from the Texas revolution. Our first exam is next Thursday and will cover at least the first four or five chapters of the text (creatively titled “The History of Texas”). I would like to make a good grade; testing makes me nervous, and the word “essay” makes me almost quake in my boots. Or cute flats, rather. I’m not exactly sure why– I can be wordy enough when I want to be. However: first college course, first exam.
I’ll keep you posted.
This is the only book by good old Mr. Berry offered by my library. In fact, I found it ferretted back in a little section classified as “Young Adult General Non-Fiction”. I’m still trying to figure that one out. At any rate, I think I enjoy the clarity and immediacy of Berry speaking directly (even all the way back in 1977) just as much as I enjoy the beauty of his fiction.
It is a book of essays (indeed, so indicates the cover). Part of the second, entitled “Healing,” I thought worthy of taking down to remember. What is creativity?…
The task of healing is to respect oneself as a creature, no more and no less.
A creature is not a creator, and cannot be. There is only one Creation, and we are its members.
To be creative is only to have health: to keep oneself fully alive in the Creation, to keep the Creation fully alive in oneself, to see the Creation anew, to welcome one’s part in it anew.
The most creative works are all strategies of this health.
Works of pride, by self-called creators, with their premium on originality, reduce the Creation to novelty– the faint surprises of minds incapable of wonder.
Pursuing originality, the would-be creator works alone. In loneliness one assumes a responsibility for oneself that one cannot fulfill.
Novelty is a new kind of loneliness.
Wendell Berry, What Are People For?; “Healing”, part II
The “faint suprises of minds incapable of wonder.” Hm. Food for thought.
It is late, and I have been knitting.
I spent last night with my friend Beth, and she offered me a pair of knitting needles, instruction and support after it came up in conversation that I had tried time and again and never could seem to get the hang of knitting. (I always say, since it’s so very clever, that the problem is there are no hooks on knitting needles to hold the thread on.) Beth walked me through casting on, then knitting, then purling, and it all came back and somehow it worked. The yarn stayed where it was supposed to, instead of slipping off the tapered needle tip at every inopportune moment! How exciting!
This spurt of knitting madness was actually sparked by a visit to etsy.com, where I found (the other day– today it seems they have all sold!) some most wonderful, big, slouchy knit hats. I want one. Badly. It seems essential to my fall and winter happiness that I have a cranberry-colored, big, slouchy knit hat. I have a thing for red hats anyway…
…as is evidenced by the provided photo of myself, odd expression, big nose, wastebasket and all, modeling my first hat-love– a thrifted felt number. Joy!
As I wasn’t ready to send upwards of $40 or $50 sailing into cyberspace– and as I can’t even find the coveted knit hats on etsy today– the fact is obvious: I must learn to knit. And learning I am! I have a little rectangle of blue stockinette stitch hanging off my needles right now, slightly surprising even myself.
I think I’ll finish it off into a little potholder, and give it to Beth. And then move on to hats! Sounds like a plan to me. Onward!…