Sunday, January 1, 2012
Julia Spencer-Fleming and New Year's Poem
Judy's Decorated Night-Blooming Cereus, with Christmas gifts. December 2011
Have you ever read the mystery novels of Julia-Spencer-Fleming? I reviewed her newest book, One Was a Soldier (2011) on this blog back on February 19, 2011. Here is good news. Her first three novels, In the Bleak Midwinter (Jan 3, 2012), A Fountain Filled with Blood (Feb 2012), and Out of the Deep I Cry (March 2012) are being re-released in a new paperback version this year as well as in e-books, on sale for $2.99, in the first three months of this year. For more info: http://juliaspencerfleming.com/bookshop.html#one
Julia is one of my very favorite mystery writers now. Her stories take place in the small town of Millers Kill, NY, and the main characters, Claire Ferguson, an Episcopal priest who has been a helicopter pilot in the Army (and is again between books 6 and 7), and Russ Van Alstyne, who is head of the town police department, fall in love. But Russ is married, which keeps them apart, at least in this series.
These books break stereotypes about priests, policemen, and many other things. She takes up interesting and timely issues in our culture today, like immigrant labor, development, unwanted children, and what happens to returning veterans from Iraq/Afghanistan. She’s worth reading. I can’t wait for the next one, number 8.
Here's your New Year's Poem. I wish you all a lovely, challenging, worthwhile, happy New Year.
THE TELLING THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING
"If one woman told the whole truth about her life, the world would split open."
– Muriel Ruykheyser
December 4, 2011
Truth can be as harsh as the rows of needle sharp teeth
in a possum’s mouth or as unassuming and graceful
as slender stems of grass gone to seed, every single
seed like a tiny Christmas light, and bunched stems,
a glorious blaze, if you have the eyes to see light
where it’s so subtle and delicate you might miss it.
He said, "I like your blood pressure. I like your
baking your own bread, I like your writing." This
from my doctor of twenty years, because I’m
healthy, active, both follow his advice and argue
when I disagree. My new banker looked at my
credit report, which the big bank described as
having "serious delinquency." The trouble spot
was my college student loan, which I’d paid off
four years ago, as the credit report showed. But
the big banks behave strangely these days.
I like my new community-oriented bank, so no
loss there. He said, "I wouldn’t even worry
about it. I’d give you a loan today." There are
other signs lately that I’m valued as I am,
truth-telling and all. Enemies are out there,
and fools abound in every age. But here is a
good place to be planted, to do my writing,
grow food, feed my friends. Any sword is
heavy to lift and hard to wield effectively,
especially the sword of truth. I remember
the ancient Zen wisdom about the butcher
who kept his knife sharp. He cut only
between the bones. Hacking at bones
when you cut up meat means the knife dulls,
and you waste your effort. The same with
people. Wait for the exactly right moment,
when their openness appears, and they are
eager to hear what you have to say. Then
speak as softly as the grass seeds do even
before the light illumines them. Then your
truth penetrates the heart and lodges itself in
the soul. This is spiritual truth. Sometimes
we have to be very patient indeed before
we can speak our truth. Meantime honesty
begins at home. It doesn’t have to be
brutal. Ask yourself what you feel, note it
down, tuck it away. Time changes all
things. Certain truths take longer to mature
and rise to the surface in ourselves and in
those we love. If the connection is good
and true, be content that it is there. More
may arrive in the fullness of time, or not.
But you have known and loved him, enjoyed
his laughter and your own. Be content.
Life showers Her gifts on those who live
well, fulfill the purpose for which they
were born, and go out to meet others with
their hands full, their heart warm, their
smile genuine and freely given.