confluence, the crimson redemption., treading in life.

Warming Rays Against Ping-Pong Thoughts

For me, in the last month or so, I have struggled a lot with knowing my worth. Professionally, personally. This is not a search for a pat on the back or validation — it’s merely me trying to be honest and real with myself, and maybe let people in on that process of figuring that out too.

There’s a thing about negativity. Well, there are a lot of things that are it, but I find that once it gets in through your ear canals, it likes to bounce around in your head, constantly finding fault, resting little. Soon after a while, you don’t notice that it sounds normal, sane, justifiable.  My thought patterns as of late tend to sound something like this: Hey, other ____ can do that…but not me. Other writers can get published, apply for and win grants and scholarships, have tenacity and drive and passion for their work. Oh…that’s other wives, they can actually keep a house clean. Oh, other granddaughters can keep up. But, really, I think it’s something deeper.

It’s a thread, perhaps, of a loss of hope. Of what’s true, what’s beautiful.

I suppose I usually pick a topic or piece or thing that needs shining in on, and I think what actually needs it…is myself. I need to pick out the grit and shine in on the beauty in those hiding places and spots that are just not lovable enough, not doing enough, not saying enough.

And, for days like today when I especially recognize I can’t do it my myself (which is essentially always), I simply, desperately need God’s light shining, warming, reassuring, restoring those places.

ocean-sunrays

 

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film.

Film Spot: Song of the Sea

Once in a very great while, you come across a film that awakens mystery and wonder in you. You return to a childlike state and your cynicism and tasks of the day and bills and adult life and worries fade out. This is how Song of the Sea struck me.

It’s an animated Irish film that focuses on a small, hurting family living on a little island off the coast — they need to take a ferry go to into town. The father is grief-stricken from the loss of his wife many years ago, and he just can’t seem to outrun the sadness that follows him. He has two children, Ben and Saoirse (pronounced SEER-jah). Saoirse is a sweet little girl who doesn’t speak.

What ensues is the unfolding of the Irish legend of the selkie, the belief that some women were born with the ability to transform into seals. They long for the sea and need to be near water even before they know what they are.

I don’t want to give too much away to you, so I’ll simply say this: this movie masterfully weaves legend and real life together. They’re intertwined. There is no divide. Because of this, some pretty crazy healing and joy descends upon this little family.

The animation, the music, the script, everything has beauty that is for both old and young — especially those that want become childlike again for a little while.

 

Here’s the trailer for those interested:

 

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Void & Verve

A blog regarding these cold days and burrowing down to find good from a fantastic writer named Brianna.

whatthewoodscreated

IMG_1051I’m finally beginning to understand what winter is for. In the spring, summer, and most of autumn, I’m so full of energy and industry. I ping pong from house to garden every two hours and push off any dull moment with running to the lake, digging in the dirt and DIY-ing anything that irks me about the house and yard.

The winter is not like this.

The winter is when I try to remember about books and painting and digging deep for the spirit I need to do even the smallest creative thing. I get so bored, I haunt around our house, hoping a project idea will come to mind. I think I might as well work as much as possible, because I’m just a husk-person who can’t appreciate free time.

For so many years, these months kept me in the depressive sub-soil of myself. I worried that soil was the deepest part of me. The…

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film.

Film Spot: Far from the Madding Crowd

I watched this movie right before my wedding and on my honeymoon. I was enchanted.

Set in the same time period (Victorian England, 1870-ish) as Jane Eyre but having less Romantic and Gothic elements, this film has sweeping scenes of the English pastoral life. Green fields, soft hills, swaying barley fields, and an abundance of sheep. The uniqueness is striking right away: we’re not in brooding moors or Regency drawing rooms (think Pride and Prejudice). It’s neither — it’s a wild place, filled with sun and freedom and nature and peace. This is where our heroine resides: Bathsheba Everdeen.

She is an odd heroine for her time: she wears pants, she rides horses with a leg on each side, she owns and runs her own farm. She goes to sell her farm’s grain as her own representative in a room full of men who would rather her be elsewhere. She wants to be free but also wants love. She’s endearing at times, and others, completely frustrating — she has a sweet juxtaposition of impulsiveness and wisdom, childlikeness and an old-aged soul.

movies worth watching, far from the madding crowd, carey mulligan, period films

Carey Mulligan as “Bathsheba” in FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD. Photos by Alex Bailey.  © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
All Rights Reserved

The complexities of how people treat each other and subtle power struggles are also prevalent in this film. Three men want to pursue after her and they are vastly different from each other. One would think that at this point it’s just one huge love quadrangle, but the film draws out characters to their fullest extent and many hidden things in these mens’ hearts come to light because of several heart-wrenching circumstances. I think it’s a fascinating, subtle way of drawing out how and why people act how they do.

Oh, last but not least, the music is sweeping and does a great job of capturing Bathsheba and the events surrounding her. It heavily features the violin.

So, basically, grab yourself a cup of tea on a chilly night and enjoy. Really. It’s beautiful.

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treading in life., words.

When TV Surprised Me

(I wrote this post mid 2014.)

In college, I stated often things like, “I don’t like TV” and retreat to my world of learning and ideas. (Which was a translation of “I can’t afford cable TV so I can’t really watch it oh well.”) I think the snob in me had given up on it as something I could draw anything of value from, like driving by an old abandoned farmhouse on a plot of land. Then random bouts of sickness hit me last year (2013) around Thanksgiving-Christmas time and I was brought quite low — I needed Story of some kind, something to get absorbed in. I was at the mercy of my parents’ Netflix account, and I was glad I was, because my snobbery came face to face with how wrong I was in my sweeping estimation that nothing was good (as in, good quality) or redeemable on TV.

And then, I stumbled upon a little show, not known well at all, nope, that had to do with the surviving the zombie apocalypse. My brain went through an explosion of ideas. What would it be like to have our hyper-fast society slam into the brick wall of one objective: survival? Maybe eventually down the road: rebuilding?

What would happen to our system of information? Gone. Books would be the last hope of retaining anything (cough as they’ve always been cough).

What would be the most precious things now? Water. Food. Weapons. Protected space. And people to depend on for any and every kind of support.

Before I knew it, I was thinking about the angles of this show a lot while I recovered from a nasty head cold and stuffy nose. Then came a fiction idea–and I started writing long story prose for the first time in almost three years.

Then, came times when I would enter a building and consider what I’d do to secure it in an emergency–barricade it or bail, wait for a better place? Could I break anything off like piping and use it as a weapon? It’s laughable, but I have legitimately contemplated what I would do with just myself if I suddenly needed to collect food from a roof that was collapsing and all I had for a weapon was a road sign. What thoughts would come if a moment of peace came to me–no screen to look at, either–when the world I knew had suddenly halted and died, and something else, something visceral and terrible, was beginning. 

As I reflect on it, I liked the effect the show had on me because it had stripped away something and revealed something deeper: the tendency I have as a human to get very comfortable very fast and forget. Just, forget. Something’s in my mind, something important I need to remember, then it’s gone. There, gone.

This theme comes up in the majority of episodes. The group of survivors are in a constant flux of danger and safety, lost and found, fight and flight. The new normal.

It’s gradual, but the group soon doesn’t so easily forget their situation as they first did. At first–back when sudden threats and raids in their camp deeply shook them, they did an ample amount of reminiscing and going back to how things were before this happened. They had longed for what was, instead of prepping for what is.

Now, they stare forward, back to back, pistols and knives and random weapons poised to strike. They don’t need to speak. They trust each others’ movements. The time has long passed of wondering if someone in the group is a Benedict Arnold, because the need to depend on each other for survival surpasses any instant and eager willingness to take newcomers into the group. The journey marking these people going from strangers to family is beautiful and powerful.

I think there are some aspects of life that are like this thread of storytelling: the moments that jolt us out of a stupor–the stark, searing light of a death of a loved one, a heart-wrenching situation, a jarring shift of events. They tell us to be present. To be aware. To be mindful. To take in good moments with joy, even when mixed with grief. As trite as it can seem, things can switch, disappear, or appear very quickly. And I think it’s cool that a story can show that.

daddy and baby

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poetry.

Song of Hands

A brilliant poet I happen to know. Amazing.

briannaflavin

Song of the Mango

Where men threw metal scraps to knock the mangoes down. They gave one to me, which I took to the small kitchen with a window and countertop of blue tiles. The sun was rising through that window, with my mango ecstatically alone. I had a thin knife, stood there paring and peeling the very smell of a mango, which smelled deeper yellow, golder than it looked inside, smelled like butterfly drought down the neck of a flower. Covered me and took me over—honey-flesh, ambrosia, juice-leather. When I buried my teeth to the hilt in its slippery meat, and the fragrant shine ran down my neck, over my breasts swathed in India linen. When the sun came in just then, the sight of God falling on me, covered where I stood in carnage of nectar, more sexual, more sexless than I could ever be. When I pulled…

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treading in life., words.

Moors and Poetic Surgery

“Okay, now cut the poem in half.”

edmund dulac

Painting by Edmund Dulac. No copyright infringement intended.

I stared at the paper, wondering how this would pan out. I sat in a generously free poetry workshop by one of my former (amazing) poetry professors, and she had just directed us to take one of our poems, dissect it down the middle, and try to create a new poem out of one of the sides.

I looked at another job rejection email yesterday. We regret to inform you that the position has been filled. I marked it down on my Excel sheet.

The taut bulge was solid, unforgiving, as I pressed my dog’s abdomen. I frowned. Her sweet brown face, dusted with white, gazed up at me from the floor, awake — but she already seemed elsewhere. Drool pooled onto the hardwood floor under her.

I really miss her.

I often despise the moments that seem in between the peripheral and the pivotal. I want to know what to hold onto, what to remember. Did school seem better when I was in it, or is it due to my looking back at it, my glasses tinted with some rose? I think something has to do with that last one a little.

As I wait for the next chapter to begin, I want to take note of what has taken place. I want the courage to “write these things down” and step deeper into the waters of my vocation.

 

Lord, here’s to You and poetic surgery. Do Your thing. I trust You.

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