Category Archives: longing

… from The Hours by Michael Cunningham and suited for conversation, I think. I need to store them somewhere, though. and write about them someday, after I’ve talked to you. or, more reasons why story matters, because how else do you say it?

Clarissa wants, suddenly, to show her whole life to Louis. She wants to tumble it out onto the floor at Louis’ feet, all the vivid, pointless moments that can’t be told as stories. She wants to sit with Louis and sift through it. (page 132)

There is still that singular perfection, and it’s perfect in part because it seemed, at the time, so clearly to promise more. Now she knows: That was the moment, right then. There has been no other. (page 98)

Still, there is this sense of missed opportunity. Maybe there is nothing, ever, that can equal the recollection of having been young together.  Maybe it’s as simple as that. (page 97)

She has not spoken on his behalf but on Leonard’s, in much the way her own mother might have made light of a servant’s blunder during dinner, declaring for the sake of her husband and all others present that the shattered tureen portended nothing; that the circle of love and forbearance could not be broken; that all were safe. (page 74)

Childhood Favorites Post #1: Nostalgia in Bridge to Terabithia

All summer, I will be making my way through seven “childhood favorites” that I’m reading in preparation for my first unit in the fall. Luckily, this is the kind of work that I am more than happy to do. Bear with me, wait for adult books in between, or be inspired to pick up one of your favorites.

Bridge to Terabithia is a story about a boy with 4 sisters, a boy who feels misunderstood, a boy who wishes he were brave.  It is a story about friendship and imagination.  But most, for me, Bridge to Terabithia is a book of nostalgia.

I can’t put my finger on the moment that I couldn’t pretend anymore, but I do remember bring sixteen, baby sitting, and realizing that the magic of imagination and pretend had slipped away years before and I hadn’t even realized it.  It is a visceral realization of growing up.

As I read about Jess and Leslie creating their imaginary kingdom of Terabithia in the woods near their houses, I could think only about the worlds I created for myself in the woods across the street from my house, the places I made in our unfinished basement…and being able to physically will myself to believe it all for hours on end.  While I was reading, Jess and Leslie became kindred spirits.

They were moved by beauty, the feeling of fullness and wanting it to last forever: “They took turns swinging across the gully on the rope.  It was a glorious autumn day, and if you looked up as you swung, it gave you the feeling of floating. Jess leaned back and drank in the rich, clear color of the sky.  He was drifting, drifting like a fat white lazy cloud back and forth across the blue.”

When I was younger, summer nights were the greatest.  All of the kids in my neighborhood would be running through our adjoining backyards, soaking up every last shred of daylight and catching lightning bugs into the twilight. Even though I knew there would always be another summer evening with cool grass beneath my feet and the smell of trees and creek and corn in the air, my heart broke when night finally came and we all had to go inside.  I spent many evenings after bed time with my face pressed against the screen, trying to breathe in the evening air for as long as possible.

They felt the need to create sacred spaces: “This is not an an ordinary place,” she whispered.  “Even the rulers of Terabithia come into it only at times of greatest sorrow or greatest joy.  We must strive to keep it sacred. It would not do to disturb the Spirits.”

Once in college, a few friends of mine and I found ourselves in an enormous grove of pine trees that were planted a hundred years ago in straight lines spanning for hundreds of yards.  Without even thinking, my friend Erin and I started sprinting down the aisle of trees…running and jumping seemed the only proper response to such a scene: we were so utterly joyful that merely starring at it all wasn’t enough.  My friend Matt took a picture of this pre-digital photography and caught us both in midair. It was in a frame for years and below it I pasted the quote: “Perhaps they could run over the hill and across the fields to the stream and swing themselves into Terabithia.”

This happened again when I went to England with two kindred and we saw true English countryside for the first time.  We just couldn’t believe that it existed in real life the same way we had pictured it in our minds in all our favorite books. I do have physical proof of our giddiness:

When the tragedy is revealed at the end and Jess’ horrid sister tells him blatantly, it literally plunged my heart like a dagger, even though I knew all along what was coming.  Jess and Leslie are just too kindred for it to not hurt like crazy.  It is the moment that the magic makes the first break: where it’s impossible to be completely immersed in imagination. But. It doesn’t mean that it no longer exists.

Bits of the magic come back to me sometimes and remind me that the world is enchanted.  Most of the time it’s when the eastern woodlands smell like Ohio.  Some of the time it’s when the sun is setting and the light is perfectly orange and the shadows purple.  Sometimes I feel again athe essence of my heart aching because of all that is beautiful and good. And real.

Soundtrack for this book for me:
Pacific Street/Hem
Why Should I Cry for You/Sting
All At Sea/Jamie Cullum
Sometimes You Can’t Make it on Your Own/U2
Yellow/Coldplay

Advent. Compassion. Or, and they will call him Immanuel.

www.akindoflibrary.blogspot.com

The day the clocks spring forward and the days begin to grow longer, I rejoice.  My ankle length down coat can be packed away and I am free to revel in the spring, summer and fall.  Falling back, however, is not as easy.  I watch the sun sink behind Brooklyn at 4:30.  I have to wear coats and layers and put away my flip flops.  Curses.  I realized that when daylight savings ends, I begin to wait.  For five long, cold, bundled months.  I am not good at it.

Then I remembered today is the first Sunday of Advent, the season of waiting.   One of the best books I read this year that I did not post about was Compassion by Henri Nouwen.  Since I was thinking about it yesterday, I thought I would pick it back up and see what I underlined and it completely changed how I want to be spending the next four weeks of this season:

The virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel, which means God-is-with-us. Matthew 1:23  “By calling God Immanuel, we recognize God’s commitment to live in solidarity with us, to share our joys and pains, to defend and protect us, and to suffer all of life with us.”  Nouwen goes on to describe what the definition of compassion means to him: “It is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull.  On the contrary, compassion means going directly to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there.”

Now I’m trying to figure out how all of these threads fit together, other than the word and thought association led me from one to the next.  I think it is this: I struggle so much with all that is a mess in the world.  I am constantly waiting to see things change.  But, I do not have to despair.  For this liturgical season of waiting, I want to be filled with this kind of compassion.  I want to remember that it is often in the waiting that we are most changed; that in the waiting is when our cup just might overflow.

I think I need a secret garden.

www.akindoflibrary.blogspot.com

As much as I anticipate the glory of spring after the hated season, as much as I revel in late summer evenings, there is nothing that compares to the fall in my mind. Perhaps this is so because the house I grew up in was neighbors with three enormous, ancient maple trees and our backyard was yearly carpeted with the best piles to jump in EVER (which I’m sure my dad was not thrilled about…after all this is before his discovery of leaf blowers, snow blowers and electric pumpkins…ha…the good, old days). Maybe it was because my birthday was in the fall and for years we went to Hidden Valley Farm for hayrides and pumpkin picking. Maybe it was because I spent a fair amount of my childhood romping through the woods and the colors added a whole new element for my imagination.

This year’s fall has been rainy nearly every weekend. My perfect fall moments have become few and far between and my midwestern heart is not quite sure what to do with the lack of romping through the leaves this year. Even though its been at Prospect, Central or Riverside Park the past seven falls, there is still plenty of space for proper frolicking.

I just finished rereading The Secret Garden and, not surprisingly, found myself longing for countryside. Mary and Colin start off the book as spoiled, selfish and neglected children who are ultimately healed emotionally and physically by spending time inside a garden untouched by adults and expectations, being changed by its magic.

As I read, everything inside of me wanted to run off to the woods and just be. Or be driving down the rural part of State Route 73 in southwest Ohio. Or laying in a pile of leaves in my backyard. Stuck in a long, frozen moment of crisp fall air and open spaces. I realized that I count on the fall to renew my spirit before the winter begins and in between the rain and the craziness of the first quarter at school, it just hasn’t happened this year. This is not ok. So. Since there isn’t a cloud in the sky today and since the high is 68, I am off.

i want to go to there.

I just wrote an email to some friends who are doing a similar trip to the United Kingdom that I did a few years ago. I was using my photo album from the trip as a guide to send them links of the hostels where we stayed and some of the places I’d recommend. My heart just began to ache for England. All I would like to do right now is order a cream tea with some kindred spirits and then fall upon the grass and read. Then maybe go hiking.

I know I’ve already written about it just a few weeks ago, but since then I’ve realized that the majority of my reading this summer has been rereads of my favorite books, most of which take place in English countryside, London, or countryside from a century ago. Harry Potter 6, Anne of Green Gables, Pride and Prejudice and I think I’m going to reread Swallows and Amazons next (which I can’t recommend highly enough if you love kids stories with adventure and imagination). All of these books just capture me. I realized it was getting bad (or good…) when after I read Anne of Green Gables for the hundredth time, I couldn’t even look at a book that took place in the modern day.

Anyway. My summer reading update is that it has been completely wonderful. I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts, but my heart is just soaring because of these stories.