Reckless writer

I stood there in the shower, the water cascading over my head, pondering how I’d say what I needed to say. My thoughts flowed, and I imagined my words flowing as easily and as perfectly.

I considered waiting until the next day instead of getting it over with. It was, after all, something I was uncomfortable doing because I’d never done it. I wondered what they’d think of me, but then decided it didn’t matter. I was going to do it and let the chips fall where they may.

When I entered the kitchen, they both were sitting at the table as though waiting for me. I asked if they had time to talk and took a seat when they indicated that they did.

I took a deep breath, looked toward the refrigerator, then cleared my throat.

“You know, it seems that everything is fine with me,” I said, “but the truth is that it isn’t. My funds are low, and I feel lost. I don’t know what to do or where to go. All I know is that I must leave the farm.”

I said those words, yes, but not nearly as composed as I imagined I would. I managed to choke them out between sobs. It’s a wonder they understood me at all!

When I finished, he leaned toward me and related his impression of me as one floating, anchor-less. He said, too, that I should stop going here and there, that I…

I wrote the above on June 23, 2013, as my “Reckless Writer” exercise from Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping Into the Open: The Art of Writing True. Her instructions were to “think of some event that happened in your life that made a real emotional impact on you. It can be any emotion— anger, fear, sadness, nostalgia— but let yourself remember the event fully, so that you can feel the emotion all over again. Now set a timer for ten minutes and write— very, very quickly— from that place of feeling…Do not chew on your pen and ponder what to say after the first sentence. Keep that pen moving the whole time.”

What you just read is as far as I got in my allotted ten minutes. The story was about my first experience being vulnerable, after which I felt totally and uncomfortably exposed. But it’s gotten easier.

Fast forward now to October 12, 2015.

I spent the evening trying to catch up on a backlog of email, many of which were articles I’d emailed to myself to read later. Interestingly enough, ‘awakening intuition’ and the ‘art of stillness’ were recurring themes throughout the articles and when I sat to read this morning’s devotional, the very first line was “TAKE TIME TO BE STILL in My Presence.” His message clear, I resolved to spend the day being still and listening for what She had to say. Perhaps She’d have the answer to the question I’d posed to the Universe last night about my need for adventure.

My phone and tablet off, I ran up upstairs to retrieve the charging cable for my laptop. While there, the journal I use for my writing exercises caught my eye as did Dancing with the Universe: A Journey from Spiritual Resistance to Spiritual Release by Dianne Rosena Jones—a book I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, retrieved just a few weeks ago, but hadn’t picked up again until today. (Spirit’s synchronicity is amazing!!) I grabbed both and headed back downstairs.

As I leafed through the journal pages, I saw letters I’d written to God and several pages of my first attempts at automatic writing—my efforts to connect with Rachel, my paternal great-grandmother whose story I want to tell. I never met Rachel; she left North Carolina for Georgia when slavery ended, and was dead long before I was born. What little I do about her I learned from the memorial author Brainard Cheney published upon the death of my grandfather “Pa Robin” Bess, Rachel’s son, and Cheney’s “Adam” in This is Adam.

Then I came across the reckless writer exercise. What I’d been feeling as I wrote it back then was all too familiar because, despite the years since, there I was feeling the same thing again! Spirit’s message was clear: “It’s time to do the work, Daughter” [for real this time].

With help from Dancing with the Universe, I began the work, acknowledging that my spiritual practice needs improvement, that instead of awaking each morning to check text messages, emails, and Facebook, and Twitter (yes, that’s my truth!), I must devote that part of my day to Spirit.

I acknowledged, too, that inherent in my “need” for adventure was the need to not only explore but to escape a reality that often feels directionless, a reality that I, because of my perceived lack of resources, often feel powerless to change.

It’s true that when I’m in one spot for a while, I get stir-crazy and start planning my next adventure; there’s nothing like the exhilaration I feel while traveling, exploring, experiencing new things, and meeting new people!! Admittedly, it’s a high but that can’t be a bad thing, can it? After all, Spirit has been instrumental in getting me where I want to go and where She needs me to be. And aside from my trip to Abu Dhabi in February, I’ve managed to log several thousand miles around Georgia and up the east coast since my car was stolen in January. That fact alone confirms that there’s definite purpose to my travels. That fact should also have reminded me that I’m in very capable hands. Our tendency, though, is to focus on the burden of our season (what we don’t have) rather than on the blessings of it.

I can’t say yet that I’ve totally overcome the part of my sojourn that’s been hiding in the shadows, the “secret shame” as it were. What I can say, however, is that I’m determined to shine some light on it, change what I can, and make peace with what I can’t. And if I’m to continue this sojourn empowered and worry-free, I must spend more time with Spirit and less time distracted by the phone, computer, social media, and TV.

Changes

After leaving Wheeler County Library a few weeks ago, I was inspired to do some exploring and took the long route home. Instead of turning left on CR-78, I followed Highway 126 from Alamo until it converged with Highways 19 and 134. It had been many years since I’d driven Highway 126 and even longer for Highway 134 so I was excited to see the changes that had transpired over the years.

On 126, I passed a field of sunflowers and a little further up the road, the house where Mama worked as a private nurse for many years. I barely recognized it, though, because the house seemed a lot grander back then than it does now. A few miles later, I came upon the house were friends once lived. It looked the same as I remembered but another family lives there now.

Storm clouds had formed during my drive so I stopped to photograph them before proceeding to what was once Singing Pines Plantation, a performance horse farm. It’s still a horse farm but a sign announces that it houses a men’s ministry now, too. While at the horse farm, I spotted a couple of dilapidated houses on the road to Towns, GA and decided to get pictures of them as well. I tried recalling the houses from yesteryear but couldn’t remember anything about them except that they were there.

A few miles from Towns, I decided to save that trip for a clear day when I’d have time to visit so at Cattle Road, a dirt road I was sorely tempted to explore but didn’t because it was muddy and unfamiliar, I made a u-turn and headed home.

That July day was a wonderful trip down memory lane but what I’m remembering most is the day a week or so before when I left the library and debated driving through the neighborhood where I’d spent time growing up. I’ve done this drive-through many times over the years and even though cousins and friends lived there, I seldom stopped to visit. But while I’m debating whether I’ll drive through that particular day, my car is heading in the direction of the neighborhood as if it had a mind of its own until we, my car and I, eventually end up in my cousin’s driveway.

That wasn’t the first time this had happened to me, though. I’d had a similar experience in Atlanta several months before my road trip. I was deciding whether to drop off a donation at Christian City or go to the consignment shop first. During the course of that debate, my car was heading to the consignment shop, the opposite direction of my inclination towards Christian City. Even though it was unplanned, the stop ended up being a divine appointment. While there, I had a most amazing conversation with Linda, a woman I’d never met and whose shop would ordinarily have been closed that day.

A few months before, I’d heard Wayne Dyer lecture about “traveling light” and the idea so resonated with me that I was practically shoutin’ as I drove down the 85 freeway! On the fateful Monday in Linda’s shop, I was thrilled to be decluttering my life but not quite sure how far I wanted to go with it. As it turned out, she had been traveling light for several years and loving it. And although I was a complete stranger, she shared all the details of how she’d come to that point and how her life had unfolded afterwards. It was an awesome couple of hours that confirmed that I was indeed on the right path.

But back to the visit with my cousin. She’s 80 years old and even though I’d spent the night with her daughters several times as a child, she and I had never talked. That day, however, we talked for over two hours about her child- and adulthood, work, marriage, raising children, my road trip, and God. Aside from sightseeing on my trip, it was the best two hours I’d spent in a long time.

By the time I left, our experiences had uplifted and encouraged us both, and her pains had dissipated. It was a wonderful afternoon and a perfect example of divine providence. It also exemplified the benefits of following Spirit’s guidance, going with the flow, and the transformation that’s possible by surrendering to both.

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