‘But I Can Do It Afraid’

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I was 27 years old when my daughter, my only child, Ellie, was born. It took years to conceive her, and then suddenly, on a pre-dawn Saturday morning, my water broke like the rainstorm that always arrives on days a meteorologist has confidently assured you, “Enjoy, folks. Today will be a sunny 70 degrees.” There were no signs Ellie would be a full three weeks early.

Imagination, Intellect, and Good Works

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“For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart”
   —Matthew 12.34

Suppose at a very young age, you could read and write at an advanced level, and almost without effort. Imagine having a desire for knowledge that seems to take charge of you. You read everything you can get your hands on—sometimes your reading is directed and purposeful; other times it is rangy and anxious. What if you could turn on your imagination with hardly a conscious effort and turn words into fine imagery and figurative language?

The Gates of Dawn

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On set.

“But Mole stood still a moment, held in thought. As one wakened suddenly from a beautiful dream, who struggles to recall it, but can recapture nothing but a dim sense of the beauty in it, the beauty! Till that, too, fades away in its turn, and the dreamer bitterly accepts the hard, cold waking and all its penalties.”
  ― Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows

You know the feeling. You’ve just finished a big show, cleaned up the messes, returned the equipment, the wrap party is over, and now what? For weeks life had singular purpose. For the last several days you’ve been riding that wave. What exhilaration! And as soon as the morning after, you’re on the shore looking out at the horizon on a dead calm.

Lessons

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Just last week, during prayers at bedtime, my youngest son thanked God that piano lessons were over for the summer. I’m not sure when it became law for upright pianos to be stationed in every household, to break the backs of the fathers who move them there and to break the minds of children who, coming home daily from school, find not freedom but piano lessons, but it’s a law I resent even as I continue to abide by it. In one corner we, too, have a breaking-down piano like a hulking mushroom.