One Kind of Courage

River Shore

“Of course we need art to explore the darkest recesses of our lives and minds, but we also need art to tell us why this world is worth loving and therefore saving. Praise too is part of any whole artistic and existential vision. Joy is one kind of courage.”
– Christian Wiman

Do you listen to podcasts? I’m mildly addicted. One podcast I’ve fallen in love with is The Habit Podcast, a conversation with writers about writing, produced by The Rabbit Room. Today’s quote appeared in episode 11, during Jonathan Roger’s interview with Karen Swallow Prior. I listened to the episode yesterday on my way to work, and it was exactly what my soul needed. That last little bit has stuck fast in my head⁠—joy is one kind of courage. Today, I choose to be brave. Will you join me?

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A Familiar Place

My grandma has lived in the same house for as long as I can remember. A distance of 1,500 miles is no easy thing to traverse and sometimes, the time between trips is much longer than I’d like. But then I’m there again—darting up the back steps toward the kitchen, the pacific coast breeze playing over the garden, the scent of fresh-baked banana bread teasing my nose. Every knickknack and plate in its own familiar place. Jesus still leads his lambs. The clock chirps the hour. And suddenly a year feels like a few moments, a mere exhale. My grandma sings out a hearty hello and scoops me up in the biggest hug. I’m so glad you came for breakfast this morning!

The Rite of the Right Way to Write

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What is the right way to write?

There are a few ways, so I’ll set you aright.

First, seize your right—tis your right to write

And tis right that it’s so.

Write the sound of the birds in flight

Copy the might of the failing light

And the vast, encroaching night

Record the squabbles and the fights

The lazy arc of the summer kite

And humanity’s enduring plight

The nightmares that give you fright

And the growing season’s blight

None are too trite: W R I T E !

I don’t care, gape and stare

Note them all, bad or fair

Listen to the sounds that blare

And the subtle creak of the rocking chair

In the town square

Or in your private lair

But above all dare…

Dare to write.

Writing is the right way to write

Seize this right, and make it your rite.

Clackity*Clack

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He gave me a typewriter

With clackity*clack keys

And a chime that rings

When I’ve gone too far

And need to

Return.

 

This sort of typing

Feels more like writing

Fingers flexed

Ink on the page

Uneven, imperfect

And glorious.

 

Strike the keys

Stamp each stroke

Hard or soft

It’s up to you

The writer, the typist.

 

He gave me a typewriter

With ribbons blackened

And linkages yellowed–

All things considered…

I suppose he really is a

Decent sort of fellow.

The Adventures of Piet

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Katy wasn’t watching.

Usually she did.

Today she forgot…

Slip, tumble, and a gentle plop

Piet dropped.

 

Wait Katy, wait for me!

Came the tiny, yarn-like shriek.

Over books, under a chair,

To the door, and down the stair…

Hang on, Katy, here I come!

But there were many steps,

And not just one.

 

Jump, hop, skip,

Grab the railing tight

And  s l  i  d  e

But mind the puddle,

Jump aside!

Katy, where’d you go?

My stripy legs are a tad bit slow.

 

Is that the subway up ahead,

The subway that they always ride?

There is Katy, but she’s climbing inside.

 

Hurry, Piet, don’t be left behind—

I’m coming, Katy, just in time!

The doors hiss shut, but where is Piet?

There he is, by Katy’s feet.

Katy?

 

Katy, startled, dropped her pen

And picked up Piet instead.

“Silly monkey… did you wander off again?”