Starting in the Middle

After a long hiatus from my blog, where do I begin? How do I discern the central point I’d like to make? Or where find a pithy or poignant jumping-off place?

I have been writing my heart out, pulling together a memoir of the last years of my parents’ lives. Who knows whether these 345 pages will meet the trials of today’s book market. But never mind. I have said all along that I want to writeIMG_0040 this—to write it, period. To feel as if I have captured my mom and my dad as the three of us negotiated the seven years between their independent living in their home and their deaths.

Mom died before Dad. And Mom and I got along well, pretty much in sync. So when she was gone, I needed to face my rigid, distant Norwegian father. How many men born in 1904 change their personalities in their late nineties?

The answer is in my manuscript. It takes willingness and work. Getting along with my dad after Mom’s death was something akin to loving my enemies.

With the manuscript now in the hands of an agent, I miss working on it because it has been part of me for some 15 years. But too many slips between pen and print can, and often do, occur. So I’m not holding my breath. The theme of the book is the more we try to wrench our agenda into a vision of holy peace, the more peace eludes us.

So now I read, read, and read more. Scott Malcomson, Kathleen Dean Moore, Brian Doyle—I just loved Mink River. Soon I’ll turn to Donna Leon’s next book for a change of pace.

But the heart of my life is to stay at peace with myself, at peace with the others in my life, and at peace with—yes—the state of the world. Because of the myriad tragedies unfolding all around us, both distant and close, and the tragedies in our own lives and in the lives of those we love, it would be easy to despair. It is not as easy to find peace when we are full of pain, deep sadness at the wounded world, its peoples and the Earth, and perhaps even sorrow for God. Long ago Karen Armstrong in a touted webcast on God commented in a sympathetic tone, “Poor God.” For sure: poor God, putting up with our failures, persistent anger, and soap-opera lives as if we were children while ignoring the needs of children worldwide.

I have learned that trying to wrench my agenda into something more peaceful just worsens the problem. In order to be wise, practical, and compassionate for others near and far, I need to stop, practice what I know opens my heart to myself and to others, and let in the peace I already have.

Comments 12

  • Congratulations on doing the memoir . . . big job and lots of writing. Working with an agent is the way to go. I self-publish because for me it’s a hobby. However, it’s no less demanding and always a challenge.

  • Congratulations on finishing your manuscript, Cathy. Your last two paragraphs remind me of Sara Tollefson’s words on hope in worship service a couple weeks ago, and a shorter version she spoke at Jazz Vespers tonight. Hope and action. Maybe it’s recorded on the SFBC website.

  • This is beautifully stated. Wow!! What have you read by Scott?

  • Glad you are back on as I have missed your inspirational, reflective, and thoughtful writing. Congratulations, Cathy, on your memoir, and I would like to read it when published. Please let me know. Blessings today from sunny Arizona.

  • I’m thrilled to be able to read your word’s of wisdom again. Carry on.

    Blessings,
    Atit

  • Cathy,

    Glad to read about you and your thoughts. Sorry I had to change the date of our event at the last minute. I’m headed for Paris later this month, but let’s try to connect after that.

    Hugs, Ellen

  • I welcomed your Spirit Stones again and had no idea that you had been writing (off and on again) for 15 years about your mom and dad and your relationships with them. How it resonated with me! My mom was warm, caring, involved in my growing up and then we kept in touch closely when I left home and came west. My dad could be described as a rigid distant Swedish father who seemed to think that if he made enough money to put food on the table and a roof over our heads, that would be enough…..except for always being concerned about our four children’s souls….. Your writing brought back the times you were going to visit him and the progression you (and he?)made over the years. I hope you find an editor or agent.

    We leave tomorrow for Missoula for Kym’s graduation. Mark and Stephanie will be flying over with us and Dale, Beth, and daughter Alanna left this morning. Terri flies in from Mpls. Looking forward to a wonderful weekend. The vacation rental is 10 minutes from town and we might be seeing wildlife roaming around.

    Each day we lighten our load by shredding or recycling but, oh, so many decisions about what we must keep and what should go. Here’s an insight into Bonnie: I have gotten rid of most everything concerning my teaching career but I reread my evaluations over 28 years and cannot part with them 🙂 I do have a Memorial folder at least 2 inches thick. One day soon, I will sit down and go through them, remembering each person…some gone 40 years…and then toss. Then there’s a thick file of Rod’s sermons..1996-2000 but, of course, not all of them, thank goodness…..

    A rep from Brighton Court came yesterday and brought us lunch. We chatted an hour about procedures, possible dates of openings, selling the house, etc. It was good to have that connection since last we visited was Dec. We are tentatively on track for Sept..Oct..Who knows?

    It was good to see you in church even though we didn’t speak.

    Love to you both and I hope we connect as the weather warms and we can sit out on our deck once again. Bonnie

  • dear Lady CAtherine, so happy to read your new SS. Always a joy to read your writing. Look forward to more. Hugs, Barbara

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