be the ground beneath that sky

part of backyard renovation, pre & post | May 2012

Day five of my week of knowing and not-knowing, earlier this year…

[16 February 2012]

Oh to be someone, she thought. Not that fame is important, but the outside affirmation of the inside reality would be nice. The violin stretches out its singing. So low and slow. Makes her wish it were time for bed and she curled up under her covers. But it’s a new day. And the sun is shining.

Now she wonders if she needs to write a letter, declaring her plan to the boss. She’s good at letters. Wishes she had that old letter she wrote back in the summer of 2005 where Bilbo’s words said it best, “like butter scraped over too much bread.” That was a good letter.

This certainly gets harder as the week progresses. Days one and two were great; but three, four and five, not so much. But she’s moved from story into thought. She’s moved away from that absence of sky.

Toss in a match. See what lights — what is vulnerable to flame.

She’s on the cusp of Leo and Cancer. What if she’d been fully lion? Would she be further ahead, more accomplished? No matter. She’s in for the long haul and slow and steady takes the race, right? Dreams mixed with a dash of dynamite.

What will the spring bring? Can she fix the mess of garden she has? If she’s home more can she work out there? Will she work out there? Questions swirling in her brain, but they’re all mundane: Will she have to sell her house to survive? Will she make it? Is she crazy? When can she quit? Will she still have enough to go to the UK soon?

Why not questions of story, of character? Where is that avalanche? What are the stories she’s upset that someone else will tackle first? Because if she dared, she could take them on now.

She needs to paint her room grey. Ah, yes. Grey like the puddle. Like the absence that is sky. Like the mud out of which the form of humanity comes. Like clay.

And the music swells. (Thanks to Ólafur.)

Yes, grey. Then, pictures and a way to think. A visual way. Like a magnet board, or a white board, or a peg board. And a cleared desk. And a new typewriter ribbon. The click-clack of keys will remind her of her beginnings. But for now, this is an end…

And, an excerpt of the letter to “my boss” (but mostly dear friend), Tim

[20 February  2012]

I can see now all the nudges that have come in the past few months (even years), but the piece that finally brought the lights up, was when I realised last week that I have never prioritized my writing but have always tried to fit it around pretty much anything else — what I consider my responsibilities. But it’s time to stop hoping my writing will somehow grow in the tiny places I’ve tucked it, and rather, to start valuing and prioritizing what I’ve been given.

I started realising that because I value Jacob’s Well so much, I give my entire self to it and have nothing left over. I always knew JW wasn’t my end job, but it’s such a good place with such good people that it’s hard to let go. Plus, there’s always the stuckness that comfort brings. And the fear, like you mentioned on Sunday, that I’m not ready. But I will never be ready. It’s not about my readiness. It’s about my willingness. And I am finally willing.

This is probably the craziest thing I have ever done, but it rings true to me, and I see God at work already, and I feel like the winter that has covered years of my life is finally about to break into spring.

Until today, I hadn’t reread this letter. Even a few months later now, I still know all the truth of those words, but that ‘spring’ bit at the end makes my lips twitch a bit, unsure of whether they want to smile or grimace.

Spring usually brings to mind beauty in all its fullness, everything as it should be, all is right with the world. But when human life (or at least my life) “breaks into spring,” I find it to be more muddy and scraggly than bloomy and verdant. But growth is not negated because it is slow or hard to see.

In answer to my questions, I did work on my garden and tame its mess. I did paint my room grey. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends (Stacey, Donna, Ali, Nikki – thank you!!). I did quit my job. And I am writing. All of these yeses do not equal a completed screenplay, but they are accomplishments, just the same.

Rilke, of course, nails things like this:

Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins…
through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have…
be the ground lying under that sky.
Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that He who began it all
can feel you when He reaches for you.”

# Rilke | from The Book of Hours II, i

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