Tag Archives: spiritual

This Writing Life…

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” Maya Angelou.

I was surprised with the recent publication of my essay, “Harnessed”. It wasn’t only the fact that I finally felt a writer, meeting the literary criteria of a journal. It wasn’t simply because this was a fresh piece of prose, put to the page late July in Benjamin Busch’s class at Sierra Nevada’s MFA program. There were painstaking hours spent with this work, in my early journals while in the Air Force, and later, marinading in my heart to brave up and pen it to paper. Once written, Busch asked us to surgically hone our narratives to less than half, to something so concise that only the essential story would remain.

This was tough work. But the edit did not surprise me.

What caught me off guard was the response once the piece published. The out-pour of support through texts and emails. Messages from those who knew bits of my story and secretly rooted me on from afar. Those I grew up with and those only recently met. There were also those who were concerned.

“I didn’t know you still carried so much anger, so much hatred,” someone told me.

I didn’t expect the conversation to open this way, but I realized there is a grand misunderstanding about how someone might process their own life. For me, I no longer held rage and the fact that I could write or talk about aspects of my life was proof that I was healing.

No, I haven’t written everything down about my journey. No, I don’t know that I will be able to share portions of myself, submit them for publication, even if I do draft them into an essay. No, I may never be able to open up, even to myself, and ink out the darkest times. I’m okay with all of it.

But that conversation prompted me to reach out to my family and close friends and tell them to not worry about me, that finally speaking out and breaking my own silence was a good thing, not a sign of my past wounding. The funny thing was that in the dialogues that followed, we finally cut through the quiet and talked about something that had remained unspoken. Most of them shared how they worried for me over the years and how they prayed for me and wished, somehow, they could’ve stepped in and intervened in my suffering. It was the type of talk that helped us all.

I’m thankful “Harnessed” made its mark in Gravel and out into the world. I’m full of more gratitude that in doing so, it changed and encouraged those close to me to know that I am doing all right. My hope is that it will reach those I may never cross paths, those who may have faced or are enduring similar circumstances and that, in reading this short piece, they will know that they are no longer alone. They will, I pray, have a glimpse of hope.

https://www.gravelmag.com/rebecca-evans.html

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This Writing Life….

This writing life is more full of life than writing.

The last few days have been mostly dramatic. Parenting is not for the meek and weak. Parenting teens requires only the bravest of soldiers. And when a crisis rises to the surface, every other corner of life is placed in the holding pattern.

So I did not write Friday or Saturday or Sunday.

Not writing feels like not breathing for me.

But there was only so much room in which to operate my life. So here I am. First thing Monday and almost wearing an oxygen mask to get to my manuscript and, yes…finally write.

Best lines  this morning: “She pulls on her sports bra, mashing her breasts against her chest, a reminder that Zach is feeding with a tube instead of through her. She pulls on a sweatshirt two sizes too big and leaves the leftover make up in tact. Her skin around her belly is loose and hangs over the band of her pants. Normally, this would bother her, but she doesn’t have time to worry about feeling fat right now.”

Water = nil.

Core strength = a bit.

Sleep = a pinch.

Family Adventures = pends on how I define “adventures” this week.

Writing on!


This Writing Life…

Memorial Day.

Writers absorb the world in more detail than the average bear. We feel things more intensely and notice what is less obvious to the naked eye.

Today was a day to take in the world. My sons and I prepared 50 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and packed lunches for those less fortunate, those without homes. Since many Veterans suffer from homelessness, this was our way of giving back to those who were willing to risk the most ultimate sacrifice for our many conveniences.

My youngest needed music while “working” and so we listened to the “Purple People Eater” almost 8000 times. I had over-purchased jars of peanut butter and jelly, so on our way to deliver pre-packed lunches, which included fresh fruit and bottled water, we paused at the local food-bank and donated our excess product.

We took to the streets armed with the hope of giving. Initially, we couldn’t find anyone in need. We went to the normal corners where we notice those with a sign, “anything will help” or “family of four in need”. It took us over three hours to hand out 50 lunches, but we found them, people in need tucked away in the crannies of our city. They were lying near storefronts and in parks. One man paused, shook my hand and then saluted me, saying “G-d bless you and your family.” Another just kept saying thank you over and over.

What stood out the most were three people, separate from one another. They each were clearly hungry, yet they declined our offer for a free meal. It was heartbreaking. I knew that they didn’t trust us. Someone, somewhere had violated that trust. Someone, somewhere had pretended to offer them something good and somehow took terrible advantage of them or someone they knew. They had been hurt or deceived or worse. I didn’t want to think about it.

Great storytelling involves scene, capturing the concrete details and creating a world that the reader can enter, like a dream. But it can also involve, sometimes more than anything, the main character returning to their ordinary world changed. We, as a family, returned home altered, changed. We felt great because we helped someone else in some small capacity. But emotions are complex and we felt awful that we could not do much more and that so many people are hurting.

My youngest announced, “we alleviated some suffering today, Mom.”

Later, I met with my writing group, my tribe and I thought it funny how most of us sat there with pens that glide and journals small enough to carry everywhere. How alike we are in some connected capacity, yet how different the stories we share with one another in the hope of feedback to help shape us into better writers.

It was a good day for writing, one of heartfelt adsorption of the world around me and a connection with like-minded people I respect and admire. It was a good day for living, one of opportunity to instill in my sons the greatness of serving others and appreciating all that you have.

 


An Effort to be Unbroken

CWI place winner in President’s Writing Award

Every breath, an effort to be unbroken.
I’ve been a pilgrim, treading along a humbled path.
Without the page, my life would have gone unspoken.

Every bruise, offered a lesson, a valuable token.
Each wrong turn, an alignment from a Higher Wrath.
Every breath, an effort to be unbroken.

Along my journey, filled with honorable coping
There would be glimmers of light–though they faded fast.
Without the page, my life would have gone unspoken.

Despite it all, my heart continued hoping
When my pen touched the page, my soul would be free at last.
Every breath, an effort to be unbroken.

What spilled over–anger, hatred and loathing–
Onto thin paper, now shredded, now trashed.
Without the page, my life would go unspoken.

In the final steps, our imprint of life is spoken
Even unread words offer healing, a cocoon, a cast.
Every breath, an effort to be unbroken.
Without the page, my life would go unspoken.

 


She Rises

The wobbly first step appears to be the most difficult, but becomes the most exhilarating.  Something unknown, yet the toddler fills with life.  Her curiosity erases her fear.

She launches.

The awkward first blast from the sprinter’s starting blocks looks embarrassing, but is alive with excitement and anticipation.  Blinded with wind in her eyes, yet the young athlete pushes forward, overflowing with determination.  She shows no shame.

She blasts.

The clumsy first dance on the eve of a social gathering seems humiliating.  Experiencing young love, the girl sees only the eyes of her date; the one she hopes will be her first real kiss–the kiss that counts.  She is complete in her thoughts and her dreams.  She understands no judgment.

She floats.

The unstable brave step out of an abuser’s prison proves a shattering event, but grows into a move based on faith.  Horrified that she has found herself in this place, she slowly allows self-forgiveness.  She realizes she can move on and heal.  She knows no limits.

She rises.


Her Garden

Her garden.  This was the place she returned when there were in-between moments that needed to be filled.  And the place she grew into a habit, something she could count on.  It gave her a sense of letting go and controlling within the same breath. 

When she left her marriage—suddenly, abruptly, unexpectedly—she took her sons and their medicine and left her life behind. 

Over a year had passed before she realized she missed mostly her garden.  As she brushed ashes off herself, blinking away sweat and fear, she began to rebuild a life, rebuild a home and rebuild a garden. 

It was only recently that she finally saw the dirt.  She dug until it hurt beneath her nails, nearly drawing blood.  The earth was hard, clay-like, not a good foundation to nurture anything tender, such as a seedling.

Weeds choked out beauty and flowers clumped together as though they had support within a multitude.  Tree branches hung low, blocking out the sun and creating a mowing hazard.  Areas in the lawn were barren, cracked wide as though the bowels of the earth yearned for something from above.

The square foam would protect her knees from the hard ground.  She tossed it down, knelt and began.  Her hair drawn away from her face with a scarf made her look older than her youthful mid-forties.  She smoothed back the wet strands stuck to her forehead, smearing dirt on her skin. 

Dig the hole.  Fill with water.  Gentle settle in the roots.  Add some food.  Add fresh soil.  Begin again.

One plant at a time, she built out of nothing.  Early next spring, when it came time to till, she would fill the plot with water and encourage her children to take mud baths before the homemade compost was added.  She promised this more to herself than her children.

For now, she had already mixed the compost and began mixing it into the soil, breaking clumps of root into sand and setting rocks gently into an empty terra-cotta pot.  The belly of the earth was white ashes and she had to dig through this and replace the cinder with rich, black dirt.  Somewhere inside she knew that gardening was more about growing good soil than bearing fruit.  This was true of her life as well.

Weeks passed before she could finally run her hand over top the lavender, sprinkling the scent into the air.  The cracks in her hands now stung, deep and dark from dryness.  She took the soft earth into her hands and rubbed, polishing away dead cells.  Then she pinched Rosemary, Sweet Basil and Lemon Thyme off the plants and rubbed the herbs into her palms, creating a mulch balm of her own.

The leaves on the pumpkin plant resembled elephant ears and they divided her perennials from her vegetables.  Only one pumpkin sprouted to life this time.  After another year, the garden would almost maintain itself, growing into something more than she imagined at the start.  It would have its own life and plants would regrow on their own terms, in their own way.

The start of weeds and tiny grass blades poked along the edge and beckoned her attention. 

Each morning before her children woke, she sat with coffee and tended her garden.  This morning was no different.  A small basket at her feet filled with onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes.  She only took from the herbs as needed for cooking, but usually brought a pinch of Stevia inside for her afternoon tea.

She squeezed her eyes and tasted the saltiness of her tears, unaware that she was crying.  Her skin stretched tight from a sun burn, her scalp was tender to the morning rays.  She heard her youngest wake, felt a foreign smile touch her lips and walked towards her home, towards her life.


What Others Think

The following is inspired from a writing exercise from a David Whyte workshop. My Writing Muse, Ron in Indiana, added a twist to the exercise with the ending to the prompt. Enjoy.

It doesn’t matter what others think because they do not hold the desires of my heart in their minds. They only hold their old blueprints, judgments, opinions and value systems.

It doesn’t matter what others think because their ideas are based solely on their exposure. They have not endured my journey through my eyes, so they cannot truly understand the place I am emerging from.

It doesn’t matter what others think because they can only respond to life out of their own history, from their limited experiences. Though compassionate, not one of us can truly step into anothers’ footprint.

It doesn’t matter what others think because I must hold true to what I believe first. If I operate out of the need to please others or avoid conflict, I will lose sight of my path and surely let go of my purpose.

It doesn’t matter what others thhink because man’s thoughts are often not in alignment with God’s thoughts. We are frail humans, broken, undiscerning and off course. I must keep my focus on doing that which honors God. I must call into my movie only the situations and people who guide and help me do this.

Yet, in a sense, how others think can matter, but how they behave when they walk along side you matters even more.


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