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.