“We must always look
at things/from the point of view of eternity…/from which, I imagine, we would
all/appear to have speed lines trailing behind us/as we rush along the road of
--from Billy Collins’ poem ‘Velocity.’
School begins again tomorrow. We have been on break for two and a half
weeks, plus two unexpected days of extension brought on by winter’s
inclemency. School begins anew…and thus,
the speed lines witnessed from eternity’s edges.
Time did slow over these last weeks…or perhaps a more apt
descriptor is ‘expanded.’ In some ways,
it was a rather lonely time for me and in others, ah…a time of such
privilege. For one, I had coffee with a
friend nearly every morning. By the
coordination of time and technology and graced relationship, we were able to be
with one another and speak of the grand and the quotidian, the quiet murmurings
of heart and the soft soaring of spirits.
I spoke with another friend, miles away, many times and we laughed as we
shared the daily whatnot of life, and the space in our kitchens as we prepared
meals miles apart and together in heart.
Other loved ones and I also exchanged phone calls and messages as we
celebrated Christmas and New Year’s and my birthday.
Time expanded to include new experiments in the kitchen…new
flavor discoveries and delights and the renovation of the deep joy I find in
preparing a meal for others. Yes, time
certainly expands when I am in the kitchen, wrist deep in cabbage and
vegetables, nose wide to the roasting green beans in the oven, fingers itching to
pluck a freshly baked clove of garlic from its crisply starched pillowslip and
pop it directly into my mouth. I learned
about caramelizing onions and what happens when you marry polenta and
feta. I learned of thyme, the
possibility within chiles to be subtle, and admired the exquisite beauty of
This morning afforded me experiments in electricity as I
made my bed with its baklava of blankets.
A spark entered my left pinky, spiraled around my body, and exited the
sole of my slipper clad right foot. I
could feel the whole shooshing, yes, electrifying, event…and found myself marveling
at the experience of what I already knew conceptually. Freaky and fascinating at the same time.
Over break, I read an author’s love letter and was moved to
tears at the intimacy she could express when simply speaking to another of
nature’s beauty and the desire to dress for the solemn celestial occasion of
planetary alignment. I also began a book
of fantastic imagination and storytelling that is the work of a fiercely
private woman with an alcoholic father and who died “unloved and not loving,”
according to relatives. Yet the book is
so richly detailed, so…hm, yes, expansive…one story leading to another and back…I
could see where writing this book was her outlet…her place to go… I began reading Mary Poppins
the movie Saving Mr. Banks
. As I
said on Facebook, it “changes forever the way I will see Mary
Poppins...and makes me think much this evening about what and how and why we
tell stories...and it makes me glad I'm a writer too...
The elegance of Abigail Adams and the speech of 18th c. politics also makes me glad to be a writer. I have been watching the HBO version of John Adams
and loving the turns of phrase, the passion with which ideals were expressed and the care with which it was done. Words mattered tremendously, as did presence in speaking them. For both of these qualities, I have great respect and admiration. Listening to them, knowing what they were about...oh, it makes me want to spill ink and speak sense in this present world and country. It makes me want to impress upon my students the role of simple elegance in speech and the idea that choosing well what one says makes for lasting substance in the being of the listener/reader.
Today is the birthday of another writer—Zora Neale
Hurston. As I head afresh into eternity
with speed lines marking my certain though perhaps winding path, I can not help
but recall one of her quotations and pose a question to myself, to God, to the
are years that ask questions and years that answer.
Which will it be for 2014?