Saturday, October 24, 2015

the writing class

Georgia O'Keeffe's Painting Space

We shuffle into the cool classroom and slid into a seat. Fresh smelling crisp paper, a new marble notebook and pens.A wrinkled brow here, a sweaty palm. there.A mind reader could see the thought bubbles over heads."Who do I think that I am to be in a writers class?What do I know about art?Will I measure up?"

I breath a bit easier as the quote from Georgia O'Keeffe is read.This isn't about success but about letting our unknown be known.My chest relaxes some and then the only rule is explained:only positive feedback will be allowed.Sigh.This feels like safety.We''ll see..

Hunched over my computer, shoulders tensed above my paper, I gaze at the Van Gogh, "Wheat field with Crows." I don't even like this painting," I say to the wind, but with teeth clenched, I stick with it and slowly, ideas start to form and my pen races over the paper.A story forms like a fog over a meadow  and I am happy.

Another day, with a light breeze and mild sky, we are herded outside for twenty minutes.Each writer is bent over in thought with fingers at the ready.5-7-5.That's the key.And I look, really look, and take dogwood leaves in hand and rub them between my fingers and mushrooms become a source of great excitement.Bent down, I pat the yellow one with the bumps, exclaim over the red and stare for awhile at the misshapen one. Haiku.

In beautiful, colorful words, we offer to each other; clouds, loneliness, tears, deprivation, confession, mistakes, childhood, damaging times, family, flowers, church.All the while, we walk around with priceless art under our arms, in our journals.We are sharing this earth with the Masters; Van Gogh, Manet, Wyeth, Gwen John, Georgia O'Keeffe and others.Stan and his bench throw us and we tense with frustration. And yet, slowly we relax with the flowers and the languid garden and in the calming , mysteriously  a story comes, a wonderful tale that surfaced from deep in our pure souls.

In the corner, unseen or noticed was a Person, the Listener.He is peace itself, seated with His back to the bright sunny windows.He smiles, nods, enchanted by what He is hearing. His beaming face and constant applause go unnoticed.At the last class, this 8th member wants this to be known:

" When you put pen to paper, you learn who you are.
  When you put pen to paper , you learn who I am.
  in this you will come to know that I have loved you always and ever."

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

the sea, the sea...

Pierre Bonnard, artist.

This is where I am most at home.The sparkling, restless sea.The softness of the sea breeze, the pounding of the surf on timeless rocks.The treasures in shells and creatures that captivate a child and settle an adult.

The minute I see the white caps in the distance, I feel a a certain excitement.This is endless.This is immense.

I am alone on a rock with a stick poking at a small crab trying to dislodge it to take it home.Totally alone but captured by the moment when the sand sings over the rocks, the wind howls with the waves Later, my feet in the sand seem to dig in of their own accord as the tide pulls the water out.

It is surprising that I love this sea knowing what I know.Having seen the drowning of a young husband in the sight of his wife and having heard the story of another.This story told by a new boyfriend on a first date in 1964.His best friend, who was with us, asked the question,"What happened ?"And then the story of himself, a seventeen year old boy, his brother,15 and their Dad in a small boat on the Atlantic off Jones Beach, fishing in what seemed calm waters.A storm came and washed the Father out of the boat; the older boy grabbed his hand and held on until he couldn't.I have so many questions now.How did you get back to shore? How did you tell your Mother? How do you live with that memory? 

 The sea, the sea.Everlasting, unfathomable, forever.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

running- a love story

Last Saturday, in a moment of weariness, I made a decision.I was at the track ready to run and I didn't want to.Just didn't. So, from then on, I decided, I would be a walker not a runner and I walked briskly for 30 minutes.I walked the track saddened.Walking, however, seemed so much easier: no 3 hour wait after eating, no deep breathing and long cool down."I bet I will walk more often than I now run, I thought," consoling myself.

As I cooled down from the walk, I thought of the wonderful adventures my New Balances and I have had: running beside a bird happy corn field in Scotland, along a rock studded road in Ireland with a tall tower castle on my left and the roaring ocean to my right.The time I was running in a small shaded park near home and tripped over a kudzu branch.Within seconds my Yellow Lab, who had been way ahead of me, was sitting at my side, comforting me with the only gift he had, slobber on my cheek.Or the run this fall in the Maine woods with two beloved nieces by my side.Shade, soft footing, scent of ocean and pine, laughs as we plodded along.What is a memory like that worth?

Other memories crowd.The six mile gentle down hill road in the Spruceton Valley that ends at the flag pole.Running that with another niece and my husband in the place that my child's heart has loved forever.The race through the woods of Dauset Trails south of here last spring that seemed like playing, for the joy of it.Not to mention medals.(I told you not to mention medals !)

I have been running for almost thirty years and maybe it was time to hang it up.Then I thought of the many injuries in all those years that I have fought through: back spasms, Achilles tendinitis, shin splints..Once, I was sidelined for a year and a half with plantar fasciitis and when a friend said that I would run again, I couldn't picture that foot pain not being there.But when it was healed,  I laced up and started over.I ran 5 minutes, then 8 minutes and on.I thought of that investment in effort and the results in good health that I feel I have acquired.

None of this mental drifting through runners land changed my mind until something truly unexpected happened.

After the walk on the track, I went to get my center pass.At the desk were two ladies that I barely knew.They looked up, smiled and asked how far I had run.I told them that today I became a walker and did 30 minutes.Two big frowns appeared and in unison they said:"No,No,No, You can't do that.We would love to run but can't and we watch you and wish we could.You have to run." Tears came to my eyes and I nodded.In that minute, I became a runner again.