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Showing posts from February, 2007

On Not Writing (Peter)

February 2007

Last week in Quaker meeting, I was thinking about what I would do if I won $100,000,000 in the lottery. Yeah, I know it sounds like wool gathering, but I came up with one real insight. After all the good causes I'd support, like AFSC and battered women's shelters and St. Gregory's Abbey and Linden Hill School, and after all the friends for whom I'd set up trust funds, then I got to what I'd want for myself. I'd buy oil paints (because I've always thought it would be fun to learn to paint) and I'd set aside time and space for writing.

And I thought some about the novel I started writing a decade ago. It’s about 80% finished, and it’s good, but every time I pick it up again I find myself starting at the beginning, trying to “comb it out” for its entire length, and I’ve got to stop that. I’ve got to put down the first half of the novel and call it DONE and start with those still-unwritten transitional chapters in the middle.

But a week has…

Feeling the River (Peter)

November 2006

Cat pointed out something the other day: While I am the one who often expresses a wish for more social life, she is the one who usually makes it happen. Now there are a couple of reasons for that. One, as she correctly observed, is that she is sometimes a naysayer. She’s very often too tired, too sick, too stressed-out, too busy with grading to go out on the town and enjoy herself, so I’ve learned to let her be the one to make plans for the both of us because if I do, they won’t happen. But the other reason has to do with me, and my own creeping sluggishness. I get into a social rut, I get out of the habit of intimacy (like getting out of the habit of writing) and then I forget how to do it and how to enjoy it. We had Thanksgiving dinner this year at the meetinghouse, and it was very nice. There were about a hundred people there, and it was fun chatting with David and Will and Laura. But it was me that decided not to stay for the singing after dinner, because I w…

A Pagan Gathering, Part II: The Gods Whack Me Upside the Head (Peter)

October 2006

I was thinking yesterday about the really nifty confluence of magickal symbols I had available. The moon is full, the land here has always felt very alive and aware, the footpath to the campsites goes across a ford in the river, and I’m wearing my sterling silver athame at my belt. (An athame, for my non-Pagan readers, is a knife used as a magickal tool.) I was thinking about how neat it would be to take the athame and wash it in the water of the ford under the full moon here at this gathering. But I kept thinking, nah, that’s just too poetic. It all fits together too neatly to be a real leading. I’m too caught up in my own ideas about magick. Let’s just wait and listen. And then at the end of the day, when we got back to our tent, I found that at some point the athame had fallen out of its sheath. I got my flashlight and went back looking for it, muttering to myself under my breath about trying to maintain a neat campsite and keep track of all my stuff in the dar…

A Pagan Gathering, Part I: Finding the Path (Peter)

October 2006

OK, it really is kind of freaky to be sitting out in the woods by our tent typing on a laptop. Cat keeps teasing me: “Some people write with paper and pencil.” Yes, I answer, and some people use clay tablets.

It was a bit stressful getting here this year, but that was mostly just because we kept expecting some catastrophe, or expecting each other to get really stressed out. I kept trying to outrun the predictions of disaster I expected from Cat until I’d gained almost a whole lap and was coming up on disaster from behind.

It’s not raining. No really, get this: IT’S NOT RAINING. Chef Michael told us at lunch today that last year’s rainfall was confirmed at 15 inches in 36 hours. This year they’ve built a footbridge over part of the ford, and a “berm” (think of the concrete barriers that keep suicide bombers from driving up onto the White House lawn) to protect the buildings from the runoff from the reservoir just up the road.

We were talking in the car on the way here a…

It's been a while (Peter)

Cat and I write differently; Cat is more of a journalist while I am more of a novelist. This is part of why I haven't posted anything to the blog since the school year began. But now that I'm into my spring vacation week, I'm finally finding the time to sit down and rework a few journal entries from the past six months into blog entries.

Blogging in a Spirit of Worship

So it occurred to me the other day to describe what I'm trying to do in Quaker Pagan Reflections as "blogging in a spirit of worship." (I may get around to adding that line to the banner description--Peter says it fits his focus, too.)

I'm feeling a bit inadequate lately for how seldom I post to the blog, but I do think that this is a pretty good explanation for why that is. So often I'll have the seed of a blog entry in me as I leave meeting for worship... but by the time I get to sit down to write it, I've had to deal with an hour or more of unrelated demands on my attention. Then there's my grade book calling me, and the weekend is almost over, so I've got to get all the little last-minute chores done before school starts again on Monday morning. No problem, I think to myself, I'll finish this post up on Monday night. Well, here it is, Tuesday night, almost ten days after I started the last blog entry, and I've _just_ managed to finish …

First Day Wobblies

As always, when I got done with Quaker meeting this morning, I was surprised at how tired I was. I remember Peter, during our courtship, once writing me one of his patented drop-dead-sincerity letters. The emotional honesty and self-reflection were (as usual for him) uncompromising, and when he got to the end of the letter he wrote, "Ugh. 10:30 AM and I'm ready to go back to bed. Emotional honesty is hard work."

Quaker meeting is hard work, too, though work of the best kind, and I typically forget, from week to week, how draining it is. Not draining in a bad way, exactly--more like in the same way a good sweatlodge is draining. You know you need to drink plenty of fluids and treat yourself tenderly for the rest of the day... let the spiritual cleansing take hold.

I don't know if all Quakers quake, but I know that I do... often, after a meeting, my knees are wobbly. Anytime I hear another Quaker mention having a similar reaction, I'm reassured. I feel quite …