December 30, 2010


It's one a.m. and I feel very happy. Finally there is time and peace to write, and it blesses me. I love writing, I say, and yet I know I don't blog much. But it's quiet and unbusy and I so much want to write and I am not tired. I wonder about my audience: why I'm writing - is it simply for myself? I think it almost has to be, and yet I might not take time to articulate it if I wasn't thinking of my friends reading this. :D

This thought relates: recently, I've been thinking often about love as faithfulness. How I can look back on the way people have related to me, and see how beautiful is has been, how loving they have been to me. Not because they always bent over backwards to accommodate me, but because they simply loved sincerely, desiring to do right by me and trusting God. Perhaps, the things we say are so full of possibilities and unknowings (I cannot fully anticipate how what I say will be received) that how I love must be based in conscience. Kierkegaardy, I daresay.

This morning when I was thinking about my video today, I thought that much of what I aim to communicate (or rather, what I feel and see to be meaningful) is not an idea or a word, not something captured, but an earnestness, a longing, that is all of what is and how I abide. Wendell Berry, from Hannah Coulter: 
"To know it, you have to be living in the presence of it right as it is happening. . . .And so you have a life that you are living only now, now and now and now, gone before you can speak of it, and you must be thankful for living day by day, moment by moment, in this presence.
This reminds me of Butterflies.

Today... I feel like what Liz said, though it wasn't about this day. "today was, just dipping my hands in some water. Not thoroughly drinking it, or absorbing it, but feeling it, and knowing it was real." Today I went to a swing dance party. It brought back memories of the summer, and was a lot of fun.

I have an image in my head of sweeping a floor. You try to be methodical about it, starting out at one side and working towards the other. But you push the broom (it's a large floor and a big broom) in strokes that gather together the dirt, isolating it like an island. That's a bit like what I feel like now and yesterday. I am pulling together fragmented thoughts and experiences and friends from so many different spheres. I want everyone to know that they are part of where I am and how I am and that I think of them all when I look for completion. Last night, at my graduation, there were my family, my neighbors, homeschool group friends, friends from both communication organizations, and my pastor and his wife. So I have this new sensation of feeling as if there isn't such fragmentation anymore. Lord, only let my words be true. . .

Right now I feel like I am both communicating externally and introspecting. It confuses me a little. I think, I like hugs for a similar reason: because they are quiet and wordless, the way I feel, and yet they bring in someone from the outside to where I am.

I am not quite sure why I titled this post "sparks." Possibly - because there are bits of thoughts and memories flying around but instead of being broken and burdened, they are living.

I feel more tired now. I yet wonder what it means to have graduated high school. "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. . ." My dad gave me a wonderful charge speech that I was beaming all throughout.

I spoke about [or meant to speak about - I didn't say it in these words] being of one mind with your parents. Could I write this thought here to seal it? I don't know if I've written about this before on my blog, but I don't think I understood how to trust and love my parents until I saw that my heavenly Father meant my earthly parents to fill a similar role. I wanted to tell the students coming after me not to hide things from parents, and to trust that they want what is best for you. I wanted to tell the parents to see the potential in their children. I talked about "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." There were so many stories I could have expanded upon, but I only barely touched them. But I think I hit most of them.

I talked about surrender and letting go of winning debate rounds and the ability to create. How we must realize that everything good in us is from God, or He will find a way to show us.

And I talked about belonging and community and, I don't know if I captured it completely, but this sense of wholeness in my many friendships. I don't know how to preserve the joy of being with friends and how to belong, except that much of it has to do with where and how you dwell: scattered or secure? I think of Josh Harris's Stop Dating the Church and how the church, the living church, can be the "dearest place on earth." All I can say is, and hesitantly, He keeps me. I am yearning towards my God and that is all I can be sure of about how to be happy. And when I have sorrow, He still keeps me. I will choose joy, I will believe. It is not so important that I stay in a certain mood, knowing that He is all. "High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art."

And this is what my speech was about: seeing already in small experiences the truth that runs throughout all of life. Learning to desire God foremost, and hope in the glorious ending this story I live will have. ". . .that you may know the hope to which you have been called, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. . ." Knowing what I have received, and holding on. Trusting God as my story becomes more faith and less sight. Perhaps - perhaps these years so far have only been an introduction, with character development and foreshadowing, setting the tone for what is to come. And I might anticipate the ending, but I can hardly imagine all the grandness that I will live by to get there, all I will go through to prepare me for an eternal weight of glory.

December 23, 2010

maybe you've noticed how much I love closure

I get to give a senior speech [in three days].
This means so much to me.

December 17, 2010


For days, I was itching to write, wanting a way out of the bubble in which I was suspended.
There I was, huddled inside, looking out at everything around me. The questions I wanted to answer. The ideas I wanted to understand. The people I wanted to engage. ("Someday I'll understand" is what I think to myself instead of despairing at not being able to speak truly) I could only try pushing my way out of my isolation for so long before I bounced back into the things I did know: the reassurance of responsibilities.

I once heard part of Psalm 68:6 as "God puts the lonely in families." That resonates with me more than my own translation; I think of it often. And it's true, for me at least. . . I love you, family.

Maybe loneliness means missing being known. I think that is what I have been wanting this week, wanting to present myself as I truly am instead of stumbling over words or simply being silent and not responding (this works better over the internet than in person). When I'm deeply moved by something or someone, I think of myself as a house with its door blown open. And what is closure?

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." -1 Cor 13:12

I want to turn from feeling lost, so I seek.

Today in JI Packer's book Knowing God, I read a quote from a John Newton hymn, as if it was God speaking: "These inward trials I employ from self and pride to set thee free; and break thy schemes of earthly joy, that thou may'st seek thy all in me."

It is good to wait on God. And now to receive - by being able to write this - I realize how everything I have is a gift of God's grace.

December 11, 2010


I don't like loud.
I like deep rivers in caves
so quiet that
the drip - drop of water
is all that interrupts
the silence.

But sometimes
I want the quick unthinking
car horns and crossing pedestrians,
the bustle of movement
and big thoughts blaring
out of speakers.

I make hasty glances
from side to side
and pressed by the crowd
I rush into the street.
Peddling my trash,
I'm part of the noise now.

But I can't hear a true thing
I know I need to leave.
So I trudge home
to the solitary studio
keep the lights turned off
and listen.

December 6, 2010

I am young
and I have walked through many afters
by the closed doors of not yet
feeling foolish outside those gone before.

I am growing
full out of experience
tall beside my newer friends
and wise to those who follow.

I am measuring
but places shift, unsteady
better to become a child
and dwell outside of time.

December 5, 2010

Lamentation - Andy Warhol

A couple of months ago, The Examined Life featured an article about Andy Warhol's artwork. It made the case that Warhol's artwork does have something to communicate, and is worth examining and learning from. I appreciated the article, and mentally filed away my new knowledge.

Now I've been thinking of concept art for my novel's cover: it's very rough right now, but there are a lot of images to choose from. I found myself thinking back to one of the images the article referenced: a work called "Lamentation."

When I saw first saw this, I made myself study it and try to understand it more deeply. Perhaps it worked a little, since I remembered it, but it didn't transport me.

But this time was different. I started sketching it, with quick strokes for the fabric she has wrapped around her head. And drawing it, I began to feel some of the violence in the lament. The taut cloth contains the force she feels, but see - it forms a sort of triangle around her, with the three points at her elbows and head. It's as if all the pain must be enclosed within her, straining her but so hard to release.

Next I tried to draw her face. There's an angularity in her chin, and I feel like she's turning her head aside as if someone had struck her. I can feel the suffering in her lips, but her eyes aren't clenched in anguish, instead they are quiet and sad. There isn't anger in the curve of her eyelid, only cold grief.

It took three attempts to draw her right hand, the one held closer to her. Her knuckles are hard but the way her hand is held up shows me that the main thrust of her arm is from her elbow. The hand looks like it's closed mostly for balance, firmness. The only thing I can say about her left hand is that it looks more surrendered.

I'm not sure why Warhol chose to outline the woman with lines that look like neon lights, but I like the way they stand out from the picture and add another dimension. And the shadows are fascinating to me - why is the right side brighter than the rest of the background? I would like to say the shadows are well-placed, but Warhol knows more about art than I do, so I'm not sure if my impression means much.

I went on to sketch the wrinkles on her blouse, and they communicate to me her vulnerability, the longing in her chest. Do you know this feeling? - it is very close and sacred, like being touched.

And so all of this is lamentation. I shall remember it.

December 2, 2010

story-telling / writing / acting

Today I was telling a story to my family in the car. I found myself thinking ahead of the words I would say, the same way that I do when I write. Story-telling is interesting, because you have to think how to describe things and deal with dialogue (the different voices of the people you're telling the story about) and I am going to insist on spelling dialogue like that.

Now I'm revising my novel, and I find it enriching and also difficult that I have to understand my characters in order to make their words sound like themselves. Mother Graham is telling a story right now, if that's of any use to you to know. I'm not completely sure how she speaks yet. I ran across this same phenomenon during NaNoWriMo, too, especially in the beginning: the feeling of acting, like interpreting a piece of literature, the bopping back and forth from character to character, channeling their motivations and backgrounds.

I think it would be very cool if I now drew a connection between acting and story-telling, just to make this thought come full circle. Um, acting is a way of communicating a story, though not a real-life one. There we go, that was quick.

I've told quite a few people they can read my novel and I so hope I communicate what I mean to with it! This is not to ask for affirmation but simply to express what I'm thinking. There are just a lot of things I don't know how to do in writing, I've found myself thinking to the characters of Till We Have Faces and the writing style of A Separate Peace and the imagery of George MacDonald's fantasies because I want to know how they did it so well.

Today in Psychology class we talked about how people learn things, and according to Behaviorism (which isn't completely right, but this is the jumping off point for the thought) learning is a fairly permanent change in behavior. Apparently, when someone receives reinforcement for certain behavior, that behavior will be increased, even when the reinforcement is only occasional. Dragging out the interval between reinforcements steadily increases someone's (okay, the example was a pigeon pecking a button) tendency to continue the behavior. Eventually the pigeon will reach a point of "functional autonomy" where they subconsciously think, hey, I like this! I peck the little button not because I get rewarded every 5,000 times (no joke) but because I actually enjoy doing it for it's own sake. Long story short: we work best when we like what we do.

I like doing what I do, mostly. And I try to always do what is the right thing to do at that time, which means trust and patience and stopping things to write poems.

It's kind of relieving to write freely like this.