Empty. Wordless. Unmotivated. Arrested in my thoughts.
Not the usual fare for when I go away. In fact, I often do my best writing, my most poetic writing when I travel. But my last two trips in the last two weeks, to the "T" states, Texas and Tennessee, yielded nothing.
I didn't write one poem. Didn't do a single journal entry. I only wrote this because I'd made a promise to Jim to do a co-post. It was a real effort, a near-miss.
Perhaps it is not fair to say yielded nothing. Because what I found was a deep sense of connectedness with these places. I found that my eyes were wide open to hummingbirds and mallard ducks, my ears attentive to the unique whispers of creek and lake, canyon and sandbar. And I felt a profound sense of connection to people.
At Laity Lodge in Texas, I was particularly touched to meet a new friend named Perri (that's us holding hands above). And at a hospitable home in Tennessee, I was greatly moved by spending a few hours in the company of a group of women who had read Stone Crossings and who wanted to meet me. The circles of hands and feet are Sandy, Christine, Laura, Lue, Joan, Twila, Esther, Lee-Ann, Kathy Y., Mona, Cate, Kathy E., and Mary— sorry if I've misspelled any of your names! (Oh, and on Sunday I met their pastor, Dennis Mullen and we had a great discussion about books.)
Tonight, I thought I may tell about this meeting in my next book. Because it felt like a turning point for me, in which I was dearly open to embracing and nurturing a group of women. I just might put it in my chapter on submission. We'll see. In any case, these women with their poignant stories of pain, their longings, their loves and humors and questions, truly entered my heart and gave me joy.
I also had occasion to chat with Erin one day while I was in Tennessee. I told her how empty and wordless I was feeling. How I didn't even feel like writing about God anymore. She told me to look at the grass blowing in the breeze, just because it is pretty. There was no grass, but I went out on the deck and gazed at the lake. I watched a grey heron fly out over the water. I marveled at the roundness of tiny pinecones and tiny unidentified birds. Turtles made little plopping sounds and ducks talked softly. I was arrested by the beauty of the place.
And when I came home, I found words.
Lake in Tennessee, Perri and LL, Tennesse Book Club photos. By L.L. Barkat.
Heather's Stone Crossings Video
Ted's book club post: Sugar Face: Forgiveness