Cuyahoga River

Cuyahoga River
Cuyahoga River in the Valley

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Give me Faith

Theodore Roethke wrote, "I learn by going where I have to go." It takes a great deal of faith to trust that where we're going is where we have to go. I waver and don't believe my heart is in the right place. My faith isn't always strong enough to believe God's up there, with a plan. Choosing the right path is sure to lead to revelations because you're doing what you were meant to do.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Toni Morrison once said, “If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.” She points out that a writer writes not just for others, but for herself. But yet, in writing about her struggles with life, Morrison finds ways to connect with the reader, crafting her writing in such a way that it becomes something she would want to read. She's already stated that she's writing books that she wants to read. How does one find an objectivity, while writing, to create someone you would want to read? When the words flow from within you, you're writing about something you know, something that happened to you or something you can imagine happening, something about the human condition, a universal problem to be solved. I suspect that when Morrison's got it all down on paper, she looks at what she wrote to see if it did what she intended. She becomes her own critic. But what she's really doing is telling a story that needs to be told. She's reaching out to other people. The message I get from this is how important it is to pick the right projects.
All our writing should be something that hasn't been written yet and it must be something we would want to read. If I don't like to read mysteries, why would I write a mystery? If I don't care about planes, why would I ghost write a book about planes?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you." Daffodils and Fireflies has been that way--a story that needs to get out. So has White Preacher's Kid. As we tell the stories of our lives, they become agents of change because the way we tell the stories and their significance for us morphs into a new history, a new way of seeing ourselves. We learn more about who we are. As with anything in life, we can choose a path of goodness--forgiveness and acceptance and gratitude--or one of pain--blame and resent and anger. During our story time together at Unity Church at the end of April, we'll discover what's inside needing to be told and why those stories in particular rise to the top. How do they define us? My parents' love story, our foray into the maelstrom of racial tension, finding my place in each new town in which we lived, and growing into a creative person with my own love story are at the surface, but below the place where water meets the sky is so much more. Right now, my parents' aging is teaching me how to live better.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro, was a surprise. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting the main character to be an Englishmen who grew up playing detective games in the international section of Shanghai before the communist revolution. And then his father, followed by his mother, disappears, taken away by warlords whose livelihood was threatened by anti-opium rallying. But we’re in the head of Mr. Christopher Banks who became a famous detective, also known as Puffin by Uncle Phillip, who is not really his uncle but his mother’s liaison. We only know what he knows as a child, as a young adult, as an accomplished man. He’s whisked away, back to London, living on his aunt’s money, and he makes a name for himself in society and for his skills, and then all of a sudden he’s returning to the scene of the abduction of his parents and Shanghai is at war with Japan and he’s somehow going to save them from that situation, but it’s all tied up with finding his parents and I don’t know why Banks is going to save the world. The comment on Shanghai society’s partying in the middle of a war, with dancers and drinking and jazz quietly shocked our guy through whose eyes we were seeing the world, “the refusal of everyone here to acknowledge their drastic culpability . . . anything that could pass for honext shame. Here, in other words, at the heart of the maelstrom threatening to suck in the whole of the civilized world, is a pathetic conspiracy of denial; a denial of responsibility which has turned on itself and gone sour, manifesting itself in the sort of pompous defensiveness I have encountered so often. And here they now were, the so-called elite of Shanghai, treating with such contempt the suffering of their Chinese neighbors across the canal.” In the book, the crowd cheered when bombs fell, when shots rang out, and went back to their conversations and drinks. It’s a comment on us, our culpability while the world is starving, while the Earth is groaning. Is it real or not real, that he returns to Shanghai to save the world? Is that in his head, just like the stories he and his friend Akira played as children? And isn’t it convenient how his friend is a Japanese soldier and they meet in the war zone on their way to find the house where Puffin’s family is holed up? And what the hell is this thing where he and Sarah are going to run off together because they’ve always been in love, yet he doesn’t really know her and she marries Sir Cecil who mistreats her? The book seems to be about Christopher’s propensity for making the romantic stuff going on in his head real. The book, in the end, showed us inside a human brain, the maze of human memory. That’s not an easy thing to show. We can tell it, but to show it . . . he was brave to try. The jacket describes it as “a brilliantly realized story that illuminates the power of one’s past to determine the present.” Christopher is searching for his parents and he’s searching for understanding of what happened. He was required to sort it all out because children are “like the twine that kept the slats [of the blinds] together . . . we often failed to realize it, but it was we children who bound not only a family, but the whole world together.” At one point, Christopher thinks he must go off to save the world because his adopted daughter Jennifer will be “glad I rose to the challenge of my responsibilities.”