"Between the impossible and the impractical is where imagination lives."
Sunday, January 26, 2014
I have spent the weekend searching for a quote that I wanted to use in the resuscitation of this blog. It was something John Lennon said as he came out of retirement for the release of his Double Fantasy album. I didn’t find it. But it spoke about how he spent five years raising his son, baking bread, and so forth. He spoke of how he survived the chaos of his past and he is doing fine. He asked how we were doing. Did we make it as well?
Since I couldn’t find the exact quote, I’ll borrow a line from the film Dances with Wolves. Finding a sun bleached skeleton on the prairie, the disgusting Timmons says, “I’ll bet someone back east is going, ‘Now why don’t he write?’”
Over these past few months I could have been that sun bleached skeleton. I haven’t written and I have offered no explanation as to why.
Writing for me is highly personal. Most of what I write is contained in a number of journals that I have kept through the years. I have a few other notebooks that I’ll make notes in and one for recording quotes that I have read or heard that mean something to me. But writing for public consumption does not come easy. Here are three contributing factors.
One. My grammar is not always the best. In school I excelled in creative writing, where style and form were subservient to content. Yet when grammar, sentence structure, and all that other ilk were required, I’d see my grades decline. Then, and now, I write the way I wish to write and it doesn’t really bother me if how I write is proper or improper. Two. While what I write is interesting to me, it may not be to others. I began this knowing that it would have a very limited audience. So at times I wonder why should I bother. Not many people are reading it. Three. I set for myself an unrealistic goal of publishing something every week. It was brutal keeping up and placed unneeded stress on me. Needing to find relief with the busyness of life, this was an easy thing to set aside.
Now, I find that I miss it. I enjoyed sharing little facets of my life. Living in a time when our oral histories are lost as generations pass and memories fade, writing here (and in my other places) is a way to preserve some that history; for my children, my grandchildren, and anyone else who may be interested.
I am not a person who makes resolutions at the New Year. This isn’t to say that I don’t set goals, I do. Example. I know I need to lose weight. But saying I am going to join a gym and go three times a week so that I can lose such and such amount of weight does not work for me. Yes, I need to exercise. Still I know that this level of commitment is not a real priority for me. What does work is a daily awareness to eat better and eat less. Where and when possible, I will exercise.
I set a goal to wake up at 5:30 each weekday morning and spend time in prayer and Bible study. This is happening and it is making a great difference in how I go through my day. I am happier, focused and energized to face the day ahead. I am ashamed that I didn’t do this years ago.
I have set a goal to read more this year. On 31 December I set out twelve books I plan to read this year (see reading tab). Mixed into those twelve is Thoreau’s Walden and an assortment of literary anthologies that I’ll read from occasionally.
Somewhere in mix of that is going on I’ll manage to draw a bit and work on my photography.
I’ll endeavor to live in each day, with a glance every now and then towards the future.
Then, there is this. It crossed my mind Friday that I need to return to this space from time to time to share a story. I am not going to change the format. It isn’t moving in a different direction. I will only write when it suits me and I am feeling inspired to do so and it will not be weekly. It will simply be me sharing a thought, a memory, a quote, a dream, a photograph, or an experience with my family and friends.
Thank you for sticking with me. I apologize for the absence, but hope you understand.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
It is not often that I wake from my night’s sleep and remember even a portion of what I dreamt. This happened earlier this week.
This past Wednesday I woke up remembered dreaming that my wife and I were back living and working at The King’s Lodge; the Youth With A Mission base that we served at in the late 90’s. It was not The King’s Lodge as I remember it for the structure was somewhat different and definitely larger. Yet, it was The King’s Lodge nonetheless and we were settled into a small flat in the back of the building. This was how it was when we lived there.
I did not want to wake from that dream. But I did. I shared my remembrance with Gerrie and started preparing to go to work. My mind was filled with thoughts of England and how much I truly miss being there. In these moments of shaving, dressing, having breakfast, I was drawn to William Blake’s poem “Jerusalem.”
And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen!
And did the Countenance Divine,
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
Bring me my Bow of burning gold;
Bring me my Arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In England’s green & pleasant land.
Sunday, June 23, 2013
As followers of Christ we are called to pray.
It’s easy for my wife and I to pray for our family and friends. We pray for their happiness, their health, their protection and their provision. Each day, in our home, we thank God for His many blessings and how He has provided for us. We praise Him for the fellowship of our church and for the blessing we enjoy of living in a place where we can worship freely. We do this daily and it is an easy thing to do. We're praying into our lives, our families lives and our friends lives. Easy.
This is good, but it is not enough. I believe that our prayers must be bigger than ourselves. The Lord calls us to look outside; to pray bigger. As someone who has been on the mission field, and who harbors hope of one day serving again, I have asked the Lord to place a country or a people on my heart to pray for. This past week I experienced a revelation of sorts in this. I believe I now have a people and place that I can pray for.
But, what of that stranger in front of me or that person selling papers on the corner? What about the couple sitting two tables away in a restaurant or the young person who walked in late to church? I know I can’t change the circumstances of a people an ocean away or of those I see each day. But I do know who can.
When I see someone I can remember that video. I can try to understand that this person is going through his or her life with their triumphs and sorrows. Though I may never speak to them I can be sensitive in the knowledge that they are carrying something that is defining them at that moment. It may be good or it may be bad. Either way, they are living their life. And in that moment of seeing them they have become a part of mine.
It is up to me to decide what to do. Do I continue to pass them by? Can I continue to pass them by? I think not.
Though I physically move on, spiritually I have stopped. For that moment I can lift that person up in prayer with all they are carrying. I won’t know what to pray. I don’t need to know. In my prayer I just need to place that person before Christ and simply say, “Lord, please take care of whatever this person is going through. Make Your presence known to them and give them peace.”
It may not seem like much, but when my Savior gets involved, it is a lot!
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Henry David Thoreau wrote in Walden, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?”
"A Couple in Green Park, London"
photo ©2013 Gerrie Grimsley
My wife introduced me to something quite profound this week. It was a video that concluded by asking:
“If you could stand in someone else’s shoes
Hear what they hear
See what they see
Feel what they feel
Would you treat them differently?”
It was profound and it was disturbing.
Suddenly I was aware of how little attention I pay to what is happening around me. I make my way through my days concerned with beginning and ending well. And somewhere in between perhaps I have done something worthy of the life that God gave me for that day. Sadly, this is not always the case. Not even close.
I am wrapped up in my life and in the lives of my family and close friends. I live in my world and have my hopes and dreams. The stranger in front of me or the person on the corner trying to sell a paper; they live different lives. They are not part of mine. So I pass them by without a thought.
This isn’t right.
What is going on in their lives? What are their joys? What are their sorrows? What hopes do they have? What dreams? Where do they want to be or what do they want to be doing five, ten, or fifteen years from now? Why are they smiling? What caused their eyes to be downcast? Do they love? Are they loved? Is there someone out there searching for them? Are they remembered or have they been forgotten? Is there life comfortable or do they struggle? What will they do today? Will they even be here tomorrow?
So many questions and in each one lives a story of mankind.
“So if you’re walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes,
Please don’t just pass ‘em by and stare
As if you didn’t care, say, ‘Hello in there, hello.’”
~ John Prine
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
The Chicago Sun-Times recently fired its entire photography department stating that it had to "restructure the way we manage multimedia." It is a sad, but honest commentary in this age where print journalism in the form of newspapers struggle to maintain subscribers. In making this move, the Sun-Times closed a chapter in the book of John H. White.
White is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, having received his prize in 1982 for his "consistently excellent work on a variety of subjects." When asked about moving forward, he replied, "I will not curse the darkness. I will light candles. I will live by my three "F" words: faith, focus and flight. I'll be faithful to life, my purpose in life, my assignment from life. Stay focused on what's really important, what counts."
"I will light candles." Inspiring.
Sunday, June 9, 2013
Use Time Wisely. These were three words that I became familiar with early on in life. Every six weeks or so, I’d see those words and looking out to the right of them, I usually found a check mark. The dreaded report card! The check mark, of course, meant that I needed to improve in that area.
If only that little mark meant that I had mastered using my time wisely for that six week. It never made sense to me. And, in the interest of complete transparency, I was also familiar with the words, Pays attention in class. I imagine my teachers would say that I was daydreaming. I excelled in those areas.
I would like to think that I have gotten better at these things over the years. There are still those occasions though when it would appear that I have lapsed back into adolescent habits. I am still prone to dream; always have been and always will be.
But of late my quest for the simplistic life has been fraught with pitfalls. I seem to stay either too busy or too tired to do much in the area of creativity. The desire is there. The ideas are there. What is missing is the time and the wherewithal to get down to the business of drawing, creating something in the garage (though I like to think of it as a multi-purpose studio), taking and working on photographs, and yes, writing. I think about it. I think about it a lot. I just haven’t taken many of the “next steps” needed to turn my thinking into action.
Then I began to think about it. What if I outlined a schedule for my evenings? I have a good idea on what things I want to do. I have sift through the many things I could do and narrowed them down to the things I wish to do; those things being draw, create art with my photography and write. Oh, and still find time to read every night. So armed with this desire and knowing my goals I have outlined the next nine weeks of Monday through Fridays. Sprinkle a few hours in class on Mondays and in choir rehearsals on Wednesdays, and I think I may have something that works.
The challenge now is to make it work. Keep the focus narrow. Work through these nine weeks. Then, we’ll look at the next nine weeks.
Nine weeks? That is the number of weeks I’ll be in class. Just in case you wondered.
Use time wisely. I remember, though I can’t count, the times that I had to apologize for that being checked on my report cards. And I suppose that these for paragraphs are my apology for not being more faithful in writing here. Honestly, sometimes I just don’t know what to write. I don’t feel inspired or creative. But other times I simply don’t make the time to set down and work at it.
Maybe I would do well to remember something my dad told me years ago. I can’t recall his exact words, but they could be summed in this. He said, “Writing is a discipline and you have to be disciplined. Make time to write and when that time comes, you set down to write. You may not have anything to write, but you set down in front of your typewriter anyway and stare at the blank sheet of paper.”
So on we go. Bring on the blank sheets of paper; or in keeping with the times, a blank Pages document.