The Lighthouse

the lighthouse

29 September 2012

Of emptiness and silence

Have you ever noticed going through periods of silence? One of inner quietude, rather than not speaking.

I have learned that my interior life goes through seasons: times when my thoughts are clear and vibrant; when prayer is lush and fruitful; when God is not only near but His voice is clearly discernible, whether I’m reading scripture or a novel, spending time with friends, watching a movie, or walking in the woods.

There are other times of utter emptiness, when my creativity has dried up, and spiritually I am wandering the desert. There is no sense of God’s presence, no consolation. St. John of the Cross speaks of the Dark Night, which ironically is a help to spiritual growth and a sign of God’s favour, but sometimes these periods of utter nothingness are mere aridity, possibly brought on by my own lack of cooperation with grace.

Somewhere in the middle of the two states, is one of silence. When in a period of inner quiet, even my thoughts are mute. I haven’t become an empty-headed fool -- I am functioning as normal, and I know that I am processing thoughts, but the thoughts have sunk below the surface and I cannot tap into them. I read scripture without connecting; there are no flashes of inspiration or insight from conversations or reading; prayer is not arduous but it doesn’t feel alive. Though I still know God is close, I haven’t the lovely consolation of feeling Him.

When I come out of this, I will have reached a conclusion about something I’ve been wrestling with lately, or had an insight into something I’ve been wondering about. There will be relief of knowing that something was going on in my brain afterall, gratitude for the result, and joy to have it behind me once more.

Does this sound familiar? Have you ever experienced this sort of thing yourself?

28 September 2012

Of ink stains and goofiness

You know you are a writer when your duvet cover, two sets of sheets, more than an acceptable number of tops, and a footstool have ink stains on them.  I once started a new job with ink-stained fingers because I'd been playing with a new fountain pen the night before.

Actually, this might not say so much about me as a writer as it does about me as a goof.

26 September 2012

A lighter shade of pale

The seasons have changed.  I know this because of what happened two minutes before I absolutely had to leave the house for work.  This may be frightening for some of you, so if you are faint of heart or ever so slightly squeamish, you may want to skip this one.

This is a late day, one in which I begin work at five in the afternoon.  This is nice because there is all kinds of time to get lots of chores done that haven't been getting done because I have a cold and feel sorry for myself - or just because I haven't felt like it.  This is not nice, because by five o'clock I have put in a solid day's work, and then have to go to work.  Ah, well.

One of the productive things I did was roughly 65 pounds of laundry.  This involves creeping down the fire escape in my scary I'm-gonna-plummet-to-the-ground yoga pants that are constantly trying to tangle my feet in their flappy legs with a heavy laundry basket, around the corner of my building, through the parking lot and through the heave-it-up cellar door, down a flight of stairs into the basement... as many times as I have loads to do.  This detail is important because I washed every pair of trousers I own but one; thusly, I mentally prepared myself to wear a floaty black skirt, purplish top with a dark grey shruggy, and purple suede shoes.  These details are also important.

I was so productive and felt such a glow of accomplishment, that after the chores were duly done and I had completed the necessary ablutions, I lay myself upon my bed for a wee nap, setting the alarm to wake me in time to throw on the above imagined outfit and scuttle off to serve my community by showing them where the latest James Patterson novel is shelved.

Alas.  I was all set, or so I thought, but on gathering keys and coat to leave, I passed by a floor length mirror.  What I saw there caused me to shriek:  pale, white, almost translucent legs framed between a black skirt and dark purple shoes.  Horrors!  There was no way I could inflict such a sight on the kind people of New Town.  But the clock is ticking, what do I do?  Tights?  Too terrible to think of just yet. Different skirt which would entail an entire change of outfit? Quickly as I could, I traded skirt and supporting garments for socks and slacks - the one pair I hadn't washed today.  Having them on me, I remembered me why I hadn't had to wash them: I don't wear them.  They are meant to be warn by someone three feet taller than me. I couldn't wear my sweet purple flats unless I found a pair of bicycle clips to hold up my pant legs, or pretended treading on one's trousers is really very normal... among short people.  There was nothing for it, I had to wear shoes with a heel.  That is why now I'm sitting at the desk at work, praying nobody will need me to get up and walk, as I am completely and utterly out of heel-walking practice after a summer of flip flops and sandals.

And that's how I know the seasons have changed.

23 September 2012

Tales of the neighbourhood

I live in an 'on-the-verge' neighbourhood of New Town.  In one block that way are well cared for and stately Victorian homes, very genteel and well-behaved.  One block over that way is an eclectic mix of down-at-the-heels neglected houses, snug little cottages, and charming older homes recently - or in the process of being - lovingly and carefully restored to health.  My neighbours are as diverse an assortment of humanity.  

Take the hootin' and hollerin' fella in the house next door. I live on the second floor of a century home converted into five flats.  He lives on the third floor of the house beside me.  His deck - which he enjoys with great regularity - overlooks my kitchen entrance.  On the day I first moved a few belongings in, he was propped against his deck railing having a smoke and said hello.  Friendly enough to be sure, but I have never quite got over the habit of treating neighbours as if they are invisible and expecting the same consideration from them.  Not to mention, the deck is just so... close. When I know he is out there and I am either coming home or going out, I tend to scurry up and down the stairs as unobtrusively as I can.  Let your imagination make me as ridiculous as it can. I really do wish I had invisibility super powers!

I soon discovered Mr Hootin' and hollerin' is a very generous gent.  He shares his second-hand-smoke generously (sometimes of the whacky tobacky variety), his phone conversations, and even his music. He occasionally has his friends over to help him with the sharing and because there are more of them, they tend to have more to share for much longer periods of time.

For the most part he is tolerably well-behaved.  Observing his comings and goings surreptitiously, I am puzzled by his circumstances.  My nosiness supposes he may be a single father with part-time custody of a little girl.  He does have full custody of a dog, however.

And so enters the main character of this little tale:  Harley. Harley, though well-behaved and pretty to look at, is not the brightest four legged creature I have ever come across.  I can tell this because, when Mr. H-n-H lets Harley out to take care of business, Harley has to be told each and every time, many times over, in a carrying voice to "Go pee, Harley, go pee."  There are never any other instructions, no other conversation, no other interaction to confuse the dog, just that one injunction repeated four or five times at 6 in the morning and 11.30 at night. Perhaps Harley has short term memory loss? Does that happen to dogs?  I do think there is a fortune to be made in doggie-sized mic and ear receiver technology, like the secret service uses to communicate.  That way Mr H-n-H could relay those private instructions to Harley alone.

The coast is clear... perfect time for me to sneak out. 

18 September 2012

3 randoms and a serious

Hello dear reader,

Today will bring a series of random thoughts, mostly to let you know I'm still here, though mostly unable to post, due to this very frustrating "You have logged out from another location" situation.  Oddly enough Blogger works randomly and occasionally - usually when I'm unprepared and have nothing to say.  If anyone else has experienced this, or know how to correct it, I'd appreciate hearing from you!

Random thought # 1
I got my hair cut last week.  It is a good cut and I am happy with it.  I did, however, get sucked into buying a bottle of very expensive post-shampoo product that promises miraculously smooth hair that also cuts drying time by 20%.  We'll see about that. However, even if it ends up being a bunch of hooey, the haircut itself was worth it.

Random thought # 2
Roasting anything makes it taste better.  Last night I had cauliflower for supper.  I don't like cauliflower, but I roasted the whole head (chopped into bits) with many cloves of garlic and about half an onion for about 40 min, then pureed the whole lot of it.  It was fantastically delicious.  I might be a cauliflower convert.

Random thought #3
It is very flattering that the public believe their friendly neighbourhood librarian knows all things, but I'm telling you folks, we don't.  My particular weak link is technology.  I tremble when someone asks me about their ereader, and feel inadequate when they need help with their email account. I run the other way when assistance is required in the local history room and I'm expected to set up the microfilm machine.  I wasn't always this entrenched in Ludditism, and I'm not sure when or why it began, but it seems a hopeless case now.  If this is a case of sink or swim, I'm afraid I'm going down.  Donations of floaties or lifevests would be gratefully accepted.  Please email the author for forwarding address.

And now for something serious:
Random thought #4
It must be a few weeks ago now (that's how long its been since I've been able to post here), the Gospel reading (I think from Luke) was of Jesus asking Peter to cast his net "into the deep", to which Peter assured Jesus that they had been fishing all night, with little success.  Jesus insists, and so Peter does.  We know, of course, the result: a catch so plentiful they couldn't haul the nets back into the boat.  Peter responds by pleading with Jesus to leave him, because he was a sinful man.  How does Jesus react?  Not with anger or disappointment, but by telling Peter to not be afraid.  How wonderful!!  Assurance from Our Lord Himself that we need not fear Him.
I need that reminder now and then, because I talk myself into believing I'm a wretch and God couldn't possibly love me.  And yes, it's true that I'm not perfect (I heard a gasp from the audience) and I must rely on Grace to get through each day, and God's mercy to end my days with Him, but it is just as true that God created me to be me.  He sees the depths of me - yes the wretchedness which I cannot deny - but also the wonderfulness which I often cannot bring myself to acknowledge.
The point I took from Luke's reading that day was: we need not hide our sinfulness from God.  We need not ask Him, like Peter did, to depart from us. He knows we have a tendency to question, doubt, struggle, fall...and He still loves us, and still asks more from us, like Peter, who so often got it wrong in his time with Jesus, and still was made a fisher of men.

05 September 2012

Of blogs and robots

Dear folks at Blogger,

First of all, thank you for the opportunity for me to write what I want, when I feel like it.  It makes me feel important to be able to share my inner ramblings with everyone and anyone who happens to wander by.

Secondly, nice job with the product: good updates, interesting layout options and all of that.

There have been slight hitches to the smooth running of things, but so far nothing serious enough to sever the relationship we've been building over the last four years, you and I. If you could just sort out that "logging out from another location" business, I'd say we're golden. (Honestly, a body should be able to post important thoughts and captivating insights from anywhere, not just from home, don't you agree?)

Here's the rub: the word verification process used to be fun. You provided what might actually be actual and real words... and maybe they weren't honest-to-goodness, look 'em up in the dictionary words, but I was able to read them because they were legible! What is this latest fad of woozy, intoxicated fonts with the letters all smooshed up and wobbly?  If being able to interpret those is proof of me not being a robot, I would be curious to discover just where the robots entered my family tree, because try as I might, I can't make heads or tails of them!  Have you considered it may not be roboticism, but astigmatism, and I'd really really like to be able to post my thoughtful and carefully considred comment?

With thanks for your consideration,


04 September 2012

Glitched again

It has happened again.  Google very helpfully is letting me know that I have signed out from another location; do I want to log in again or cancel - which mean the same thing: I can't get in to post or edit posts.  Argh!

I so love technology, don't you?