While waiting for my husband to close up shop, I sit at a table by the Kid’s Place door in McDonald’s reading a colleague’s dissertation. A young girl, perhaps all of four years old, rushes to the entrance and peers inside. Speaking in decibels only audible to canines and the people who love them, her face is lit with excitement. Her tiny body strains on tip toe, exerting all the discipline she can possibly muster, she waits for her mother to nod permission to enter. I steal a few envious glances over the top of my computer screen, wishing my phone’s camera were at the ready, wanting to be her, almost remembering such elation as my own, knowing it is – though I can recall not even a single occurrence in my well-remembered and equally well-mined childhood. I believe it will be again. You can bet your butterfly barretts it will be, Missy! It will be again. Friends and acquaintances, insert your earplugs. Having ditched my wig in recent months, you might get ready to have yours blown all the way back!
What is it about us morning folk who can only seem to usefully string a few words together approaching midnight when the house has grown dark and everyone else more or less fallen silent? I suppose that’s the point for writing requires getting out of the idea’s way and that only happens when we are tired enough (mostly of ourselves and our petty distractions, concerns, priorities) to let it be.
In my case, perhaps in many others’ as well, writing is more like taking dictation. To do it well, one need simply or not so simply vanish in plain sight while keeping hands and fingers relaxed and moving. What I really began to write about was how tonight, more than 20 years after the fact, I came to understand how I got one of my nicknames, Pearl. Trouble is, on the way to writing that down, the matter of voice began it’s familiar trill.
I’d just spent a day listening to British accents, my emotional, perhaps even psychological, North. First, I was riveted by Helen Mirren’s embodiment of The Tempest, and last by the inescapable jibe of, “you’re British, aren’t you”, in The Ghost Writer – set in my familiar stomping grounds of Massachusetts – but produced almost entirely elsewhere. My ears and tongue may have made peace with various ‘Merican dialects, but my writer’s heart speaks a different cadence. Of course, this explains a measure of my attachment to James Baldwin, my favorite ex-pat, and provides some cover for my lack of publications, but it represents merely the tip of the ice berg that appears to be on the verge of thawing.
According to Oswald Chambers, chastening is an invitation to listen.
Has the voice of God come to you directly? If it has, you cannot mistake the intimate insistence with which it has spoken to you in the language you know best, not through your ears, but through your circumstances.
In small and ginormous ways I have interfered with God’s purpose in and for my life by doing some fuzzy ‘simultaneous translation’. It happens like this: I hear, “Follow Me”, and I immediately translate that into action – the phone call or comment or purchase I’ve been longing to make. Inevitably, disaster on one scale or another results. The impulse may have been benign but the end of the thing was bitter – not better, because I did not wait on God to reveal the exact context or precise steps He intended for my following.
We’ve got to find the door, enter the room, find the right wall, and flip the switch. Not exactly rocket science. But given the otherwise impressive forces arrayed against us, positioning ourselves to allow The Light to shine in our lives could take some effort. By effort is meant prayer – the prayer that comes of repentence and changes things, starting with us.
I say ‘otherwise impressive’ because if one did not know that ‘greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world’, the wiles of the Devil would be all but inescapable.
Find the door: It is written, I am the way, the truth, and the life. Any man…
Enter in: They that seek the Lord must know that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him and are called according to His promise.
Find the right wall: This would be the scriptures relevant to the circumstance casting a shadow on God’s child.
Flip the switch: Apply the scriptures to your situation. Confess with your mouth. Believe with your heart and with a mustard grain seed of faith you will move mountains.
As First Lady Dr. House says, ‘there’s no app for that.’
Despite the fact that I appear to be utterly disinterested in putting the syllabus together for the two classes beginning next week, I am having a thoroughly gratifying time discovering new and old resources. In the latter category is today’s find: Facing History dot org. I first became aquainted with them while I was yet teaching and learning in Massachusetts.
Today, I tapped their Immigrants and Immigration resources borrowing a classroom set of Crossing the Blvd and several hour-length or shorter videos from their lending library. May they receive funding greater than the need for such excellent resources and may cultivating compassion become everyone’s priority.
Finally, Yes! Magazine is sponsoring their Annual National Student Writing Contest. The deadlind is March 2nd. I’ve posted details in my course shells for extra credit and will add an Each 1 Teach 1 challenge with the borrowed books. I sense a legal status problem-based project coming on and just received the idea to make the syllabus flash cards instead of the colorful but still traditional one-way, two-dimensional format! I believe TunnelBrain, a tool available through eduTECHER will do the job dynamically. May even invite learners to post their score as part of the introductions. Oh how faithful my God is and how much sweeter obedience is than sacrifice. Blessed seed, indeed! See Isaiah 44:3.
In his commentary on Isaiah 26, Matthew Henry writes, “We make nothing of our religion, whatever our profession may be, if we do not make heart work of it.“
Was going to call a friend to celebrate a matrimonial breakthrough but decided to right-size the episode and lie down till it passes as all things domestic are wont to do, hence the blog’s title. Think of a bird, breaking through its shell, high above ground level and you’ll be closer to scale.
Rather than breakthrough, I can say I may have been treated to ring-side seats in a moment during which the human and divine coincided. Now, before you protest that such things happen all the time, allow me a single, ‘yes, but’. When in fact was the last time you were privy to such a coincience? My point, precisely.
All I’m saying is I was awake and mindful as it happened. Not exactly what one might call ‘flow’ but not an altogether different species of experience either. Perhaps at more advanced levels of spiritual warfare one isn’t relieved when the dust begins to settle, but here, in the infantry, we sag ever so slightly when victory over self is declared.