Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Prayer for Light

We gather to pray for the return of the light. Teetering on the thin edge of light, entering fully into the darkness, there is no way out but through. Each year, we wrestle with this unwilled descent into shadow, each alone with it, facing down our individual darknesses.

And yet, we can, and we do, gather to pray for the return of light, for lightness of heart, for the luminescence of a full-throated summer sun, for a light spirit treading lightly in the world.

We cherish and trim our candles, and hold them high in the darkness. In this hearth-keeping, this light-kindling, we feel a long connection with women down through the ages who have worked, mightily, to do the same for the ones they love, and for themselves. And the light does not, did not, illuminate only—no, it throws off warmth as well, to thaw the deep chill and unfreeze the mind.

I wish so fervently to nourish an illuminating, warming life force in myself, to fan it into a bright flame, letting it penetrate all my being and all my doing, and then to project it bravely beyond myself. I pray for the return of the light, in my world and in the world.

Mary for the Poplar Grove Muse 
from Our Solstice Sampler, December 19, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Take the 10/10/10 challenge

Fresh off the winds of November, widely known in writing circles as National Novel Writing Month or NANOWRIMO, or writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, I would like to present readers and writers with a new challenge. Please consider taking the 10/10/10 challenge: read 10 books, in each of 10 genres in 10 months from January 1st to October 31st.You should read genres that you do not normally read.  That would be 10 books a month for 100 books by the end of the challenge period.

I read an interesting essay as November began this year. The writer opined that while we were all so busy writing bad novels, there was a lot of great reading to be done and maybe we shouldn't waste our time writing bad fiction when we could become better writers simply by reading more.  We need to read more. She then introduced me to 10/10/10.

I gave up on NANOWRIMO several years ago. I just couldn't get excited about churning out really bad prose any more, and after reading this essay I am sure it was the right choice. Now I am intrigued by reading 100 books next year. I am an avid reader and my best reading record so far is 52 books in a year--a book a week. So this challenge seems daunting, but the spirit of it is simply to stretch beyond one's normal reading preferences to read things one would not normally read. And maybe, just maybe, to learn something about writing and the world.

So join me--in reading some new books in the new year. The first one on my list is a book of short stories by Nobel Prize winner Alice Monro.  What is the first new book on your list?

 Amy for the PGM.

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I am a lifelong Logophile, a lover of words.  Words have been my friends for as long as I can remember. Before I learned to read I remember watching my mother, lost in reading her paperbacks and my dad being totally engrossed in his newspaper. I couldn’t wait to find out what that was all about

As I was growing up, I’m sure my family thought I was lying on my bed reading. But I was actually in England in a haunted mansion, or in Egypt excavating the tombs and reading hieroglyphics, or following Mowgli and Baloo through the jungle.  Words transported me to someplace else, which was exactly where I needed to be.

 I love the way words wrap themselves around your ears and touch your soul.Words spoken or written have the power to heal, wound, inspire and incite.  They change our world. Adolph Hitler used words to incite a whole country to commit atrocities that went against their very nature.  Randy Pausch inspired people to face death with grace and positivity, but to also live life to the fullest in his book The Last Lecture.  Jane Austen made young girls everywhere believe that true love was possible even if the odds were against them. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle turned us into amateur sleuths after reading Sherlock Holmes. Social media, through Tweeting and Facebook connected people who were determined to overthrow a corrupt leader in Egypt. 
Words matter. As is evidenced in our schools with all the bullying that is going on today. I remember my mother never allowing anyone to call me “Red”. She didn’t want me to be diminished by a nickname that only spoke to the color of my hair and not who I really was. In grade school some boys would say to me, “I’d rather be dead than red on the head”. This gave me permission to chase them around the playground and show them how weak they were in the running department.

The word vagina can titillate a room full of women who were born with one when they were asked to ponder, “What was my vagina doing in 1988?”

Sometimes our own words can come back to bite us in the butt, for instance, when we make statements like  I would never…

We begin learning at a very early age how to be effective communicators with our words and how we use them.  My son learned early on that whining got him nowhere. 

Everyday I receive A. Word. A. Day  from:

I’m still learning.

Rebekah for the Poplar Grove Muse