Zinnias on my dining table, August 2011, After Hurricane Irene. Now we wait to see what Hurricane Sandy off the coast will do.
The vase was from my first Roadmap to Great Literature for New Writers class in 1981, a Penelope vase, she who was faithful.
The Telling that Changes Everything XV. April 1, 2012
For Judi Ivie, my editor at Mainly Murder Press
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 hearts warm, their
smiles genuine and freely given.
–The Telling That Changes Everything I.
We can be
killed, maimed, have lies told
about us, but our truth will
shine into their darkness,
whoever they are, whatever
their intentions. Their humanity
is as frail and needy as our own.
They also have the choice: to be
who they are or betray themselves,
the worst evil there is, and so
often not named in our world,
more and more confused about
–The Telling That Changes Everything II.
Keep on being who you
are, doing what you love. It counted before.
It counts now. It will always count. Don’t
worry. You have what it takes.
–The Telling That Changes Everything XIV.
A more complete yet so subtle and gentle a
happiness lifted me until I felt suspended
all day, for no reason, for every reason.
My work was light. Nothing disturbed
my equanimity, the serene confidence
that was like white, layered clouds under me,
a protective quilt come to assert that, yes,
I was where I needed to be, doing what I
needed and wanted to do. My own life,
my way of seeing the world and other
people, my words and books, my life
here with plants and creatures, loving
neighbors and friends, is exactly right.
I’m past the crossroads now. It will get
harder. It already has. To be in the world
and not of the world is never easy, always
fraught with potentially disturbing
consequences. I feel ahead of time the
jealousy, hatred, rage I may stir because
I succeed, because I’m putting my simple
vision of love and transformation into
stories, into words, and other people
embrace them. A neighbor man tells me
he loves me. I’ve had a Christmas hug
from another man who will care for my
hens when I’m gone. “When I was
a little boy,” Clavin says, “I wanted to
ride the school bus. I wanted knowledge.
But all I got was a cap gun.” Now he sits
with Robert, who is dying of cancer. They
have been friends since they worked in
tobacco fields as children. My friends
mail me checks for my new book, cheer
me on. Susan in the post office is as
excited as I am when my new book arrives
in the mail. Another woman copies my
pre-sales flyer and gives it to her book-
reading friends. There may be contemptuous
looks, scornful smiles, bitterness because
I succeed where they have failed. Always
we can choose which voices we heed and
hold close to our hearts. I choose the
ones that made me float with seeming flimsy
clouds holding me up. But words do lift.
My editor writes: “Yes, we believe in
your book, but, more importantly, we
believe in you, Judy.” We choose the
reality we trust, the bonds of affection
that best pull us up to our full height,
egg us on to do our most outstanding
work, give our gifts whole and unclouded
by doubt or dismay. It’s called an act
of faith. It doesn’t make you rich,
but it does make you happy.