on friday mornings, i click off the radio. it’s quiet time. time for the soul to do it’s percolating. see what bubbles up.
this particular friday — home alone except for the few straggling matchstick-legged friends who seem not to be able to kick the soap-nibbling habit in my upstairs hall drawers — it’s just me and the tick-tock of the clock, the chittering of sparrows out the back door, and a train chugging in the distance.
it’s been quiet here all week. as i’ve succumbed to the rhythms, once again, of this old house. as i’ve felt the deep sigh of once again being home.
it’s almost as if it was a dream, the ambles through cambridge, the unrelenting calendar that day after day demanded full-on attention, that kicked brain cells into high and higher gear. i get missives from my now faraway friends, friends now scattered all across the globe — from turkey’s tear-gas zones, from south africa where a people weeps for their dying national treasure — and i feel something like a piercing in my heart. i love those friends, and miss them all the more for not being in their every day.
rumor has it that The Professor is, at last, pulling up his cambridge stakes tomorrow, filling the trunk, the back seat and the front passenger seat (the one that would have been me, had i not been unable to untether myself from this quiet bliss) and motoring into the sunset. poor sweet soul, he doesn’t really want to leave. he’s re-discovered his love for colonial new england, for the proximities it affords, for the nooks and crannies in its landscapes and its coastline.
so, in my solitude — the longest stretch of alone time i’ve had in 20 years, since my firstborn was plopped into my arms in june of 1993 — i’ve bathed in the whole soul healing waters of allowing thoughts to unspool in their own slow measure. i’ve scribbled to-do lists and actually worked my way toward the bottom of each and every one. satisfaction, defined.
i’ve scrubbed, and dusted away cobwebs. i washed dingy pillows, and hung them out to dry. i’ve clipped and clipped from my old roses, my exuberant welcome-home roses, all of which seem to be thriving without my ministrations, without what must amount to interference from the bumbling gardener.
i’ve settled in, at my old writing table, and picked up where i left off before i packed the boxes back in cambridge. i’ve a project, a book project and a deadline of september 1, so my summer load is piled high. when i was off in cambridge, i followed a serendipitous and holy trail to a luscious and brilliant editor. her name is lil. i first met her at an umbrella table in the shadow of the bell tower of st. paul’s church off harvard square. we sipped gazpacho and whispered about the spirit, the human spirit.
it was the first time in my life an editor breathed holiness, breathed benediction onto the lens through which i see much of the world, the sacred lens. she asked me to write a proposal, a book proposal. gave me till january to get it done. then, a whole committee pored over that literary blueprint, and deemed it a deal. a contract was signed, sealed and delivered.
the working title is Holy Hours, the subtitle is a work in progress. it’s why i’m home alone. to launch back in, to sink deeper into the weaving of threads into whole cloth.
it is such a blessing to be able to reach for the books on the bookshelves i know by heart. to have my whole library and wellspring all around me. to sit at the table where the dappled light filters in through the overgrown ivy. to get up from writing and pedal my old blue bike up and down the lanes. to plunk on the beach, beneath the cottonwoods, amid the dune grasses. to dash across the street to my beloved and wise friend, and fill my belly on her welcome-home feast. to take walks past familiar gardens and front porches. to have old friends ring the bell. to feel their hearts pump against mine in pressing hugs so deeply overdue.
this is what quiet time brings the soul. it feeds hungers, quenches thirst. we are, all of us, so much more than meets the eye. we have soft places deep inside that need sustenance, that are fueled on wisps and prayer and uncharted encounters. that depend on brushstrokes from On High, or wherever you believe Holiness abides.
as i typed that very sentence, i looked up at a frantic chattering out the window. there’s a fledgling wee cardinal in hot pursuit of his papa, the two of them squawking up a storm from two branches, one just above the other. must be an early flight. i missed the nursery hours here. and now, the papa’s flown away, and the little fellow is alone there, wings trembling, barely cheeping. perhaps stuck in mid-flight. left to his own devices. not certain what to do. how to get from point B, back home to where the nest is.
such are the blessings i am home to witness, as i breathe deep the quietude, the abundance that surrounds me, home alone.
i’m inclined to go quiet for awhile, my beloved chair people. to pull up a chair only when it seems there’s something truly to say. i think often of the crusty newspaper editor i bumped into in the produce aisle a few years back. as we picked over the bananas, he groused that “too many people are talking these days; no one’s listening anymore. everyone thinks they’re a columnist.” i feel like i’ve talked too much here this past year as i strained to record the bumps and dips of one sumptuous year, and you’ve all been blessed listeners. since i’m a creature of habit it might be hard to shake my friday morning routine, but i worry that i’ve rambled on too long.
before i duck back into my quiet zone, tell me: how do you carve out hours — or scant minutes — for your soul? and what feeds you most deeply?
Dearest Barbie<Never feel you have rambled on too long!! Your Friday posts I have so looked forward to.So your posts have fed my soul.Yes,it was a quiet time,for me in the midst of taking care of my little Parker. I so looked forward to what you had to say and your insight.Yes,at times they were almost spiritual for me.I love the way you think with your sweet heart and soul.I understand your need to slip away and concentrate on your book.Sooo Exciting.I will be anxious to read your book!! Must run.Love you !!! xoxox Mary
oh, sweet mary! i love knowing that you pull up a chair here, even when i don’t know you’re doing so….(a sentence that might only make sense in my own scrambled brain). i think of how you used to tell me stories to fall asleep. and perhaps you were one of the dearest seeds who planted a love of storytelling in me. you always obliged, and lulled me to dreamland. for that, and a million other reasons, i have always loved you. i hope parker gets your stories too. blessed child, he must be. i won’t be gone for long spells. just enough to let the quiet settle in. the last thing i want to be is someone who takes up precious oxygen in a world that’s far too noisy…
I second Mary! Friday afternoons, sometimes very-late-turning-into-evening afternoons before I finally leave the office, I take a deep breath and exhale to your posts. Your rambles are really explorations, like a walk along an Indiana Dunes boardwalk, where the scenery might be familiar, but it’s also ever changing, with discoveries and revelations, so that by the time you’ve so skillfully circled back, you, and we, are changed, enlightened, illuminated, inspired. You really do have a ministry that touches on the everyday, what is common to all our lives, and what is wondrous about it if we pause to take notice. You are our guide, pausing and pointing out wonders along that boardwalk. Of course you must sequester yourself for the important task of book writing, but I hope there will still be meanders. I cannot image you ever talking too much at the table. I, for one, am there, elbows on table, chin in hands, soaking it all in.
you are scrumptious, my friend. SO scrumptious. of course there will be meanders. i can’t not meander. xoxo
Congratulations! So thrilled to hear about Holy Hours!
What Mary, Karen & HH said! They said it so well, all I can add it thank heavens an editor FINALLY figured it out! Will be waiting and waiting for the book. You CAN do this, and I for one will eat it whole like a communion wafer. Dashing to rehearsal. MUCH love. If you need to go silent for YOU, we understand. But for me, always love to hear your heart. xoxo
and happy wedding, glorious nancy!!!! so many festivities among the chairs. will be holding you in joy all weekend. xoxox
Oh oh OH! I’ve always known there was a book in your heart just waiting to leap out onto the page. I support you, cheer you on, and wait for the day when the whole world discovers what we already know … your writing is simply divine. xoxo
love you, pammy jo. a through-and-through believer. and believe me, we all need one. xoxoxo
WOWIE!!!! This is the best and most subtly delivered news I’ve heard in WEEKS. Months? I am so excited! It’s just high time for this! I can’t wait to see it and turn it over in my hands and buy it! The only downside here is that September 1st is awfully soon and I’m not sure you will after all have time for coffee before then!
Love that old editor of yours…Favorite quote saw a few weeks ago that I am taking to heart as my summer intention:
“Everyone should get a good listening too!”
You are a listener that shimmies what you take in from the world with your eyes, ears, and heart, into your arms, and out your fingers into beautiful words.
I am so thrilled that your pilgrimage to Cambridge will be bearing fruit. You have been gardening this idea for as long as I’ve been pulling up a chair!
I will check in every Friday anyway, but will know that if there is nothing there, that it will only mean wonders are afoot. Blessings on this holy endeavor.
oh lamcal. oh, you make me sigh so deeply through-and-through.
I’m sure that in reflecting on the year and sculpting your book, you’ll feel like the proverbial duck: “inclined to be quiet” but paddling like mad below waters. I’ll peek in at the table every now and again, too, for it’s always a comfort and joy, and look forward to the day I carry your words home in a little white-and-green sack from my indy bookseller up the road!
bless YOUR heart. i find that it’s a friday morning and i might not know how to get through it without a little typing. so don’t be surprised….old habits are hard to break….