When You’re Not Done With January

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When You’re Not Done With January

Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

It might just be the tortoise in me. That preference to move slowly—to process slowly, to act and re-act at the pace of sub-normal. January appears to be trying her best to leave me in the dust. She is plowing ahead and building up steam, finding steam in the gray matter she makes her hallmark. Her trademark color of sky and air. Moving forward with the confidence of a triathlete on steroids. While I haven’t chosen my 2019 leather day-planner calendar thing yet. (Decision fatigue has followed me into the new year.) She delights in clean slates and fresh starts and new beginnings which she parades in front of me like a braggadocios half marathoner with a proclamation sticker adhered boldly and proudly on her mini-van bumper.

And. yet for all of this January this and January that — I have grown to love her. And for the first time in my nearly 60 years I am begging her to stay, to linger here awhile.

I find her enthusiasm contagious. Let’s go she says, into the fog of the unknown. Let’s run, she says, it’s all downhill from here. Let’s start again, she promises, she flirts, she calls me to the land of new mercies.

And then she leaves.

She disappears into the month that ends with a thump on the 28th day. She leaves me alone just as I believe I may have found my stride. She disappears into the fog of snow and ice, a thaw and even a hint of spring. It’s as if she finds the whole month a game of hide and seek. Of go and stop.

But she is my muse. I find her inspiring and a companion on the days that darken in a snap. I find her filled with promise that is usually attributed to springtime.

But whether or not I am ready to say goodbye, like many things I have grown to love, slowly, over time, on the back end of the curve — I must say goodbye to January in a matter of days.

Yet I will fold her promises of new beginnings, press them into my flesh.
I will hold her contagious enthusiasm for the blank page which says “what if,” written in January’s magic disappearing ink.

And I will say, not “goodbye” but “see you soon.”

Because though I have not allowed her to be the pace setter she has tried to be, I have learned to make my way. Like a January storm that muffles the world, she has both quieted me and energized me. She has brought me the gift of a new day again and again.

And she has mercifully shown me that the way to go is forward, always, into the fog of uncertainty. Into the haze of gray waiting for the clouds to pass. Into the day after and the day after that—with a January hopefulness that is nestled into the crunchy crust of frozen ground and muted skies.

Because just as I will not say goodbye to January, January will not speak goodbye to me. And we will silently go into the month that says, 28 days is enough for anyone who learns to love a day well.
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Join me each week for new posts here—both poetry and prose. Sign up to receive new posts in your inbox. (I’m fairly quiet in a January sort of way, I try not to bang around and make a lot of noise when I slip into your inbox with my words. 

I hope you’ll join me every Wednesday for new episodes of my podcast, Peabiddies Podcast- Pursue the Art of Noticing. It is available on a dozen or more listening platforms. Click the tab on the home page here to listen in or click here to listen inhttps://elizabethwmarshall.com/peabiddies-podcast-pursue-the-art-of-noticing/

I hope you’ll follow along on Instagram @elizabethwynnemarshall where I post daily on my Instagram feed and in my Instagram stories. I would love to see you there.



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Hitting Close To Home: Preaching To The Choir

 

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This season of Lent is carrying me to the garden.
We walk together to the sermon by the lettuces.
(The royal we unless you count the coal black English Cocker puppy, faithful by my side)
The figs preach a brief homily as I pass by, one of unflinching hope. It is a taunting message. Their green shoots and leaves trajectory seems sure. June is a garden’s lifetime away and yet they already are. Mine own growth seems fifty fifty at best.
Yesterday’s sermon soaked me good. I can’t shake the message or the feeling of kneeling wobbly on a bed of sweet conviction.
Even the baby limes the size of a quarter of a cracked open pistachio whisper something new. They grow, slow and steady, without reciting the Ten Commandments, praying the Prayer of Confession or being drenched by a thirst quenching sermon that leaves you parched for change.

All creatures great and small  are headed toward re-birth. My own feels questionable, less certain. And the homestretch between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday feels inadequate for my growth.
Not enough time to pick up speed, bear something tangible, edible and fully formed.

The garden, seated behind the lectern listens well. Responds in love.
I want to be the zinnia seed, the radish seed, the one buried in a rich soil of nearer certainty. Of nearer my God to thee. Tucked into the bed by hands who know that giving up and letting go bring more life to life.
That poetry is best heard in the slowness.
And that beauty is tucked in the bed with the beets.

The garden raises its instruments of praise. And a sings an early Easter song of hope and grace. My song is not quite ready. My time has not yet come.

And I remain. Toes buried in the soil. Rooted at the foot of the Preacher. If only I could hear the words. Those written just for me. I seek to hear,  even to read the lips would suffice.

So I remain. Seated in the wooden pew. As close to the choir as I can get. Preparing with those who will sing an Easter hymn.

A hallelujah flowered song of praise, rising up in billowy breath from the mouth of the truly changed one.

 

 

 

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Love Listens ( My GraceTable February Post)

Join me at GraceTable. I saved a seat for you at the table.

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When I was a small child, my mother made certain I called my godmother to thank her for the gifts she gave me. Aunt Francis always gave me a piece of my silver pattern, her generous gifts a bit lost on me at the time. My stomach tightened up like a rubber band ball as I picked up the phone to call her each and every July, after the birthday gift arrived. I stalled and delayed, until Mother prompted me one final time to make that call.

Aunt Francis had a severe speech impediment. It manifested itself with long periods of silence between words. (Join me at GraceTable for the rest of my post.)

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Relearning The Lost Art of Rest

 

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In another life, I rushed. A lot. Hurried to the syncopated rhythm of my own heart beat. Well actually it wasn’t that poetic or rhythmic, it was sort of messy and chaotic. I once described the feeling of living a rushed and hurried life as an overwhelming feeling of being chased. I missed a lot in the frenzy. Failed to document, notice or capture much of the beauty that was then, as now, a part of this marvelous world.

Now as I learn the art of rest and live into a life where moments and periods of long carved out times of rest are a way of life, I love to sing the song of rest. Cheer folks on to simplify and to find ways to restore and rest in the everyday.

Poetry helps. It is healing. A balm. Living a life which is increasingly marked by simplicity serves as a fulcrum. Placing rest and regeneration as priorities is important. Vital to a rich and fuller way of enjoying what God has created.

Reading poetry brings me to a slow place of pondering. Of viewing life through a poet’s eyes. Writing in a compressed form such a poetry, helps me to economize my words. Tell a story in a way that perhaps shows more.Teases out more. Challenges me to make art that evokes a response of yes, I see it that way or yes, me too. Or even, wow, I missed that entirely.

My friend Shelly Miller has spent months studying, documenting, reading and learning about rest. And most importantly,  listening to a community of women as they lean  into the Sabbath and Sabbath rest. This community is called The Sabbath Society.

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I cannot give you the gift of rest per se, but I am giving away two copies of Rhythms of Rest written by my dear friend Shelly Miller. Shelly and I share a love of writing. We lived in the same smallish town for several years before Shelly and her husband H moved to London. Recently I heard her speak about the concept of Sabbath rest. I sat on the front row as she spoke in a Charleston church as part of her Rhythms of Rest book tour. Her message is life-giving and important. And her writing style is lovely.

For a chance to win a copy of Shelly’s book (I am giving away two copies) simply choose one of the following ways to enter. (US and Canada folks only, please)

One – Follow me on Instagram, @graceappears.

or

Two – Sign up to receive my free newsletter A Quiet Place For Words

Both my newsletter and my Instagram feed are increasingly becoming favorite place to write, make art and document the extraordinary ordinary in my world.

Three – Simply leave a comment on my blog and indicate you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Rhythms of Rest. Good luck. I hope you win. Names will be drawn on Saturday, November 19th,

(Shelly’s book is available for purchase at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble if you’d like to purchase a copy to give as a gift and to keep for yourself. As inspiration to hold rest up as a life-giving priority).

Be sure to visit Shelly’s website, Shelly Miller Writer dot com and follow her on instagram, Shelly Miller Writer too.