Edge Effect

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Here I came to the very edge
where nothing at all needs saying, ~ Pablo Neruda

Life liquefies at the shore. The apparent boundaries of unique eco-systems collide in powerful, beneficial exchange. In landscape architecture we call it edge effect. It is primordial. In Genesis, it happens in three acts of separation: dark from light, water from water, and the lower waters gathered from the ground. The waters are called sea, and the dry ground, land, and it was good. It was good. The dynamic shore. Edge effect. Read More

Intercessions

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At 4:30 a.m., the respiratory therapist wheeled his apparatus through the open door. The order called for medicated oxygen to be forced into our five-year-old daughter’s lungs. For the treatment to work, the seal of the mask over her mouth and nose would have to be airtight. Read More

Other People’s Stories and My Own Meaning

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I keep a personal blog in which I sometimes quote part of a good book, and then I write a brief comment on it. When I read a novel by Pearl S. Buck called The Time Is Noon (1966), I knew I couldn’t write about it. I loved it, but I wasn’t going to admit that publicly. A few weeks later, the story festering on me, I wrote about this quote from The Time Is Noon:

“She was making her life, shaping it about the children. One had to take life and make it, gather it from here and there–yellow curtains, carrots, a bed for a little boy, milk for a sick baby, sheets of music to write, her unfinished child, a house–out of such and everything she would make her life. And underneath was the strong sustaining web of love unspoken. What if it were unspoken and unreturned? A phrase came flying out of her childhood, her father, from the pulpit, reading, “And underneath us are the everlasting arms.” She had caught the phrase then because it was lovely, listening to him idly in the careless fullness of her childhood. But now when all childhood was gone she could take the beautiful words, like an empty cup, and fill them to the brim with her own meaning, her own secret meaning.”

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Creative Process and Rest

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Most Bibles say that God rested on the seventh day of creation. “Rested” is a good word. I have always imagined God relaxing on Sundays — maybe kicking back in an armchair and watching the world progress, or maybe taking a Sunday nap. It’s a nice image. Read More

How do you tell yourself the story you’re in?

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How do you tell yourself the story you’re in? “Literature differs from life,”says James Wood, “in that life is amorphously full of detail, and rarely directs us toward it, whereas literature teaches us to notice.”In time, the amorphous details will fall into place, or else we’ll forget them. We will be able to frame our life in narrative. The purpose of our pain will be revealed. But until then? Read More