The magical mystery tour!

This morning when I stirred my coffee I picked up the wrong spoon. Instead of the nice clean spoon I’d taken from the drawer moments before I picked up a spoon left on the counter from dinner last night. Somehow it had missed the last train into the dishwasher before I went to bed and so it sat there all night, lonely and covered in spaghetti sauce. I stirred my coffee without realizing the error. I walked to my comfy morning ritual chair without noticing and I took that first sip, maybe even the second sip in utter bliss. The third sip revealed my error. Nothing like aged tomato sauce chunks in a person’s coffee first thing. I mean that.

All of this has nothing to do with my post this morning. I just needed to tell someone. Thanks for that.

Now, to the business at hand- my new friend, Cathy Warner has invited me to be a part of what she calls a The Magical Mystery Blog Tour 2014. I was very excited to be offered a seat on that tour. I love the Beatles. Imagine my surprise when I read her actual post this morning and found no evidence of the Fab 4, no walruses or no Strawberry Fields. It was not quite as bad as discovering the floating chunks of tomato sauce in my coffee but I’ll confess my initial disappointment that John, Paul, George and Ringo were not a part of this tour.

In any case, I moved past that because I really do like Cathy Warner an awful lot. Her writing is lovely. Her blog is beautiful and intimate even though it’s not psychedelic like the cover of that Beatles album that we shall no longer name in this post. It’s still pretty far out, man.

The tour itself is about connection. Cathy answers some questions offered up by her friend, poet Cary Taylor and then Cathy pays it forward by tagging other writers that she likes a whole lot. Thus explains how I’m involved in a blog tour (that has no walruses, strawberry fields or LSD inspired art work. Sorry.)

So, now that I’ve gotten a fresh cup of coffee (that has no chunks of tomato sauce floating) here’s my contribution to the cycle of questions and answers that make up this tour today:

What am I working on?

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If you’re my friend you know (because I have been pounding you over the head with this information) that I just finished a book, “Nearly Orthodox: On being a modern woman in an ancient tradition.” The book has just been published by Ancient Faith Publishers and now is wending its way through the world of books. I guess in theory I’m not “working” on that anymore as far as writing is concerned.

So, in light of that I’ll change my answer to say that I’m working on research for my next book, which is a sort of “theology of the body” for normal people. Most of the work out there about how we see our bodies (for religious folks in particular) is tough to decipher. I’d like to write a book we can all cling to when the couch is too comfy and the pastries are calling.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

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When I began to write the book, Nearly Orthodox I wanted to tell the story of my conversion but I couldn’t just tell that story because I’m not a single story. I’m a collection of stories. All of us are collections of stories. We are the product of all the years we’ve lived and all the stories we’ve created. So, instead of telling you about my conversion to Orthodoxy I wrote the stories that explain why I’m so neurotic. It’s far more entertaining, and, it’s all true. I thought maybe it’d be like therapy and help me not be so neurotic but I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen. You’d have to ask my husband to find out, I guess.

I’m not sure that answers the question but it’s been a rough start this morning, with the coffee and blog tour shake up and all. Forgive me.

Why do I write what I do?

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Remember that part of me being neurotic? That’s why I write. Online quizzes on Buzzfeed and the like tell me I’m a verbal processor which means I need to talk about things to understand them. That was driving the grocery store clerks crazy so instead I put my creative writing degree to a good use and began to write about things instead. I have to write it down to understand myself and that’s why I write what I do.

I also write poetry which is what happens when too many words on a page make me want to dig my fingernails into my skin. Poetry is a way for me to make beautiful little tasty morsels instead of a full on Cake Boss cake wreck. That’s not to say the kitchen is any less a disaster area whilst creating those tasty morsels. The process is always messy. I could really use a cleaning lady.

How does my writing process work?

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Remember that disaster area and cleaning lady comment?It’s safe to say that that’s an apt metaphor. I wish I could emulate the sort of writer who can just sit quietly each morning, soak in sun rays, sip coffee (without tomato chunks) and summon the muse but it’s messy. My best ideas come when I have no chance of writing them down. It’s like the best conversations my kids want to have with me come at bedtime when my brain cells are gone and my attention span is depleted. I have to force myself to find time to put it down someplace and hope I can decipher my notes later. It always reminds me of that episode from Seinfeld when he wakes up late at night, laughing, scribbles down a note for a joke then spends the rest of the episode trying to figure his handwriting. When he finally does, the joke is not funny at all. I feel some days I spend a whole episode reaching for that great idea I thought I had and some days I never do reach it or I reach it and realize it’s all about the flaming globes of Sigmund but some days there’s gold and those are the best days.

What’s next for this tour?

Well, this is where things get really interesting because I’m tagging my pals for posts. You’ll get to click on over and see posts from my friends, Karen Beattie and Lance Burson.

Karen has written a beautiful book about loss and grief and gifts in the process. I hope you’ll check it out and while you’re at it, read her, a lot. She’s awesome.
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My pal, Lance has written a few books over the years but his latest is here. Also, check out his blog if for no other reason than that picture of Brad Pitt. Why not?

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If that doesn’t do it for you, you can also read him on LeftyPop, his hard left leaning, news gathering, opinion spouting website.

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Look for their posts in the coming week or so and continue on this magical mystery tour! It’s a virtual pub crawl of awesome, except I’ll tell you right now there is no actual beer being given out. It’s BYOB, people.

 

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all you need…

“and now I will show you the most excellent way…”

I meant to tell you all this earlier. When I was in the shower today I figured it all out. I mean I really got it all completely figured out, the world, the troubles, everything. I know the answer. I started to write it down but the phone rang and then the doorbell rang and of course there was a fascinating discussion on Twitter about feminism and rape culture so I got sidelined on that a little while. Later, I thought more about my grand revelation, the one that came to me in the hot spray of a rushed shower and I began to write some notes. I only got a few words into it when I stopped, because it’s too simple, far too simple and far too difficult.

Love.

It’s only love.

That’s all. It’s the answer, the full and complete answer to life, to death, to war, to everything. And I thought as I began to type these words about all the responses, about it being naive and simple and unrealistic. And frankly, that’s a kind of sad thing to believe. It’s a sad thing to think that love cannot overcome the worst of life because in a way, if it can’t then what exactly is the point? I thought too, you know, that really, the business of religion ought to be love, real and concrete love, without strings, without fail. It ought to be about love. That is what seems to unite all the world’s religions, the one question they all seek to answer being “how then do we love one another?” Too often religion gets sidelined by something other than love, by power or control, by judgement and fear and anger. The answer to that is love. Too often politics gets sidelined with something than care of its people, by power or control, by judgement and fear and anger. The answer to that, also, is love. Too often I get sidelined, I get distracted, I get confused and disoriented by power or control or judgement and anger and I find, more and more, the compass I need gets buried under the pile of things I ought to do, have to do, should have done. But really, on the simplest level, if all I say and do is oriented according to that crazy compass where Love is magnetic North, well, I have to think my life would feel different, look different, be different. If I make decisions based in love, real love, full on agape, where is the loss in that? Certainly, it won’t keep any of us from injury, because love requires sacrifice, vulnerability, risk. Power and Control offer sexy lines about avoiding the mess of vulnerability, exerting dominion over that pesky thing called risk, circumventing the sacrifice. It sounds ideal.

And of course it would-

-which is why we choose it over love so frequently.

So the Beatles almost got it right. Love isn’t really all we need but based on how the world is moving these days, I’d say that it is certainly ought to be back at the top of the list.  That’s what I’m thinking, anyway.