Writing and Finishing: Be like a child.

It took a child dunking her bread in the sacrificial grape “wine” at church this morning to remind me.

About patience and my own rhythm. 

As I watched from my liturgist perch, one family came forward to stand at the communion rail to partake of today’s offering. In our church this is cut squares of white bread, and a thimble-sized cup of grape juice. 

I watched as one small girl took her bread and her little cup of juice and stood alongside the rail. She dipped her bread into the juice and took a tiny bite, and chewed it leisurely. Pretty soon she dipped her bread again in the juice and chewed that—again, leisurely. She was in no hurry. As she chewed she stood there lost in thought. 

Adults and other families came and went while she finished her meal. When her bread was gone she tipped her cup and made sure she’d gotten every last drop out of it before placing the cup in the receptacle holes for the used cups. Her Dad stood next to her, waiting until she’d finished and then they returned to their seats. 

The first thing I appreciated about this scenario was that no one—and I mean No One—attempted to hurry this child, or interfere in any manner with the way she chose to consume her communion. That would have totally honked me off. 

But the second thing—the way she continued in her method, unaffected by the steady flow of traffic to the rail around her impressed me to the max, and I couldn’t help but question: Why do we forget how to remain unaffected when working on our own projects, be it writing, painting, designing flower gardens or redecorating our TV room? 

Many have written and sold books on “How To Write Fiction” or “How NOT To Write” or “5 Easy Steps to Publishing Success!,” or blogs espousing how you, too, can make 6 figures in freelancing! 

Their intentions are mostly good, I am sure, but too much of “them” gets in your head and does much damage, especially if you get so bound up by their advice that you cannot cut yourself free to be and do—what you want to. 

If you spend too much time reading and absorbing all this flak, you, unlike that oblivious small child enjoying her communion, won’t be “taking your particular seat” anywhere nearly as calm and satisfied as she was today. 

We know our own rhythms and expectations; what we want. What works for us, is going to be very different from what someone else does. 

And that is okay. 

Like taking communion, as far as I’m concerned, there is no right way. 

All that matters is how you feel about how it’s progressing. For you. You’ll know when you aren’t happy with the way it’s moving, and then you’ll do something about that, or you’ll quit. (I don’t recommend this.) 

Forget everyone else. Try to be like the child at the communion rail. 

Follow your own rhythm–because you do have one.

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Nourish the Magic (with fruitcake to boot!)

I offer you the gift of the attached video.  It epitomizes what it is that I love so much about the approaching holiday season, and about maintaining the child still in us.

The smell of Christmas spice is lingering in our house this morning. Over the weekend I baked fruitcake. I used two different recipes yielding six “bricks” as some fruitcake haters might call them. We don’t call them bricks around here—my family likes fruitcake. One recipe uses absolutely no “scary stuff”—those sticky, candied fruit peels. It requires only dried fruits of all kinds and three kinds of nuts. The other recipe has some of the scary stickies in it—and chocolate chips. Quite fun.

Last week when the temps hit 70 degrees one day I got a jump on the season and strung our Christmas lights across the bushes in front of our house. I also went browsing in a floral shop that is decorated for the Season already, and I bought this new snow globe. I picked it up and put it down twice before I decided to give myself permission to buy a new Christmas decoration. We hardly need another thing to be packed away after the day has come and gone, but this globe pulled me in when I turned its switch and watched the lights change color against the snow glitter inside. That evening when I saw the way it lit up the room with its “quiet” way, it reminded me of why I will never grow up completely. I don’t want to miss out on that simple magic.

I cringe when I hear people in the stores say things like, “Christmas isn’t that far off . . .” ‘Oh, I know . . . I’m just dreading it.’

Are you kidding me?! What’s to dread? Christmas isn’t the problem. We have a choice: allow the super-commercialization to clobber us and our debit cards over the head, or guard our time and energy for what really resonates with us.

There’s nothing Pollyanna about my approach here. I have a brother-in-law facing “suspicious” medical unknowns this week. My sister-in-law experienced a near-fatal medical episode a while back. A church I’ve been a part of for many years will decide this week if they need to close their doors; people will be losing their jobs. Friends of mine are dealing with job burn-out and are nowhere near retirement age. I am mindful and concerned for all of them.

I hope you haven’t grown up so much that you no longer ‘get it,’ and I also hope you will keep this snow globe handy for when things get crazy for you.

AUTHOR NOTE: The video was made while listening to the music of W.G. Snuffy Walden’s arrangement of “The First Noel,” as recorded on the CD titled: A Windham Hill Christmas. My family and I own a broad range of both Mr. Walden’s work as well as other Windham Hill musicians/products.

Feel like giving the eternally maligned fruitcake another chance? See if this recipe works for you.

 “No scary sticky things” Fruitcake

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. allspice

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. cloves

½ tsp. mace

½ tsp. nutmeg

½ cup melted butter

2 eggs

¾ cup black coffee (cold)

½ cup brown sugar

1 cup raisins

1 cup dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, craisins, peaches, apricots, etc.)

1 cup chopped dates

1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, almonds or pecans—your choice)

1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips

¼ cup rum or brandy (apple cider could be used, but why?)

DIRECTIONS:

 Mix the melted butter, eggs, rum and coffee together.

Add brown sugar and mix well.

Add rest of dry ingredients and place in a sprayed and floured loaf pans. I use two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans.

Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until done. Test with a cake tester.

NOTE: Do not use glass baking dishes for this.

After cakes have cooled for 10 minutes, remove them from pans; allow to finish cooling, and then wrap well and freeze until needed.

Unexpected Play

What fun will you allow yourself today?

 It IS mid-October this morning; the snow and colder temps ARE not that far away.

What last bit of outdoor fun can you have for yourself yet today, that you’ll store away for winter?

Allow me to make a few suggestions:

  • Pump up the bike tires and go for a ride.
  • Take the motorcycle out for a spin—and stop at the local ice cream joint and have something you haven’t had in a while. Cherry nut?  Pumpkin Blizzard?
  • Go after some apples at the closest apple orchard. Eat a caramel apple, if they have them.
  • Buy a couple of big pumpkins and set them by your front door—just for the hell of it.
  • Eat your lunch at a picnic table in a park today. Pull out your notepad and see if you can describe the sounds the leaves make when they fall from the tree. Record all random thoughts; you might amaze yourself.
  • 

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  -Kahlil Gibran