Displacement, says it all.

“Displacement is a vector quantity that refers to “how far out of place an object is”; it is the object’s overall change in position.  (The Physics Classroom.)

Never having taken physics, I have no idea what a vector quantity really is but I’m pretty sure my vector has shifted a lot lately.   That mysterious vector idea has been darting around the back of my mind.  How far out of place can some things get?  How far out of place can I get?

At first, I was using it as the Freudian defense mechanism.  You know the one.  The man is mad and takes it out on his dog.  The dog chases the cat.  The cat toys with the mouse and leaves its dead body on his keeper’s doorstep.  The dead mouse comes back to haunt the man for having a stupid dog and cat in the first place.  The man convinced he’s losing his mind goes to a psychotherapist to understand what the mouse symbolizes and pays $250 per session, three times a week for ten years.  If that isn’t displacement, than I don’t know what is.

But back to vectors.  Physics classroom lists characteristics of vectors and among other things I don’t understand also says this:

“a vector arrow (with arrowhead) is drawn in a specified direction. The vector arrow has a head and a tail.”

Now, I’m even more confused.  Apparently, some physicists got together and disassembled the laws of motion in the universe and when they put things back together they ended up with vector arrows with heads and tails.  Things are starting to get really creepy.  No wonder my day felt like I was fighting against gravity and at any moment apples might fall from the heavens like evil A-bombs.  It’s all those vector arrows out there upsetting the natural order with their heads and tails.  No wonder I feel  displaced.  I’ve walked around this planet for a few years now and haven’t fallen off or floated out in space or suddenly got sucked into the liquid lava layer of the earth.  I also haven’t been hit by a vector arrow but there is always a first time.

Maybe vector arrows are invisible?  Maybe I’ve already been hit by one?

That would explain this sense of displacement that has been hanging over me like a bad neon sign with half the letters missing and a squadron of dead flies laying underneath it.  It’s the vector arrow’s fault.  Mystery solved.


Entry 200: Silence


Several days ago, I read an article on silence.   It has clung to me like a second skin.  I feel compelled to write about something I can never capture.   How do I write about silence when its very state lies beyond words in an emptiness so full there is no describing it?

It’s the lack of silence in my head that troubles me.  I long to have the stream of thoughts and their companion words broken by the grace of silence.  Only in the silence can I begin to understand my relationship to all things.  It is in this space that God speaks to me in the economy of stillness, a loving quiet, a healing silence.

Lately, the words have been such a jumble that I can’t find myself.  I tumble in the land of words like a feather in the wind.  Driven to figure out things I can not understand, all the words in the world still leave me feeling empty.  They have not been tools but a burden that I can’t sort out.  Trips to the library find me leaving with an armful of books, I can never read.  I pour over them in the evening, searching for some thing I can not describe.  My busy head is driven to find the answers.  I fool myself into thinking that some day, one of these books will open the door into a place I’ve never been and I will understand what I’ve been looking for all these years.  But I know that this isn’t true.  These books can never contain the answer to everything that challenges me.  Such an answer isn’t found in a book.  It is only found within, in the vast empty space of silence.

Words can carry me only so far.  The rest of the way must be travelled alone in the gentle caress of silence.

And so, I celebrate my 200th entry, advocating the opposite of words, symbols or pictures.   I have always been convinced that at the very heart of all being is a space beyond words where God/Love dwells within us like a gentle fire.  So much of my life has been consumed with putting out this fire.  Tending this fire seems to lead me down an unfamiliar road but it is a road I know better than myself.  Lost in the mystery of silence, I discover that it has always been where I began and where I will finish: in Silence.


Carrying a Woeful Grace

Tuesday, I wanted to write about grace.  The days soon ran together with only a litany of unwritten words circling around my mind like dirty water around a drain.  It’s bath day and the youngest of nine has just taken the plunge in the tepid murky mess. Tired wet words are splashing on the floor.  A detached curiosity drapes itself around my neck as I watch.  I can’t turn away.

Yesterday, I wandered through the downtown library as we killed a few minutes between appointments.  So many books.  My heart beat faster with desire.   Ah, the words, the millions and millions of words that swarm around me and seep into my veins.  Words are like heroin in my blood.  Without them I don’t feel normal but with them, I feel still feel lost.  It’s as if the world knows a secret and it’s not telling me.  My mind feels sweet and foggy.

Maybe it takes more to get high these days.  My mind has gotten use to the noise.  The words feel different then they once did.

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Wordy Wednesday

My woes on Wednesday come from an excess build-up of words that have no place to unleash themselves.  So many words have built up in my head that they have started to leak out.  I can’t stop talking.  No one is safe.  I want to communicate and communicate I am.  Apparently, all those built-up words have layered themselves on my tongue and are finding an outlet.

This need to communicate is why I write.  There is no real sense or reason behind.  I write because I can but since I can’t always write (Life has a way of interrupting.) I talk to myself in my head or any one who happens to wander into my “field of conversation.”  (Some times, this is a pretty big field.)

Maybe, I should start talking to the dog.

She can be an amazing listener.  Although, right now she has some insane idea that there is something out side that she must bark at.  It’s probably a squirrel or the wind.  She barks at both.

When she isn’t barking and isn’t sleeping soundly underneath her blankets, she listens.

Her comprehension is questionable.  The average dog is said to be as intelligent as the average two-year-old child.  Ruby, our mini-dachshund, does display an advanced degree of toddler cunning.  She’ll never understand the meaning of all my words or begin to comprehend the subtle nuances some of the carry but she is an excellent listener.  She could be teaching a seminar in listening.  I think I’ll sign up the husband and the kids.  They should sit in the front row. . . and take notes. . . careful notes.

Maybe she is such a good listener because she is trying to understand.  Maybe, she is trying to learn something new.  Dogs can learn new tricks.

Maybe she listens because I am that important to her.

The “why” of her listening matters not.  The fact that she listens to me with her ears at attention, her eyes searching my face with eager expectation, that matters a lot.  Her listening is therapy, free and sweet.  It calms me.  The clouds of emotion that have obscured rational thought are gently lifted away beneath the gift of her attention.  Listening is this valuable.

Her lack of comprehension doesn’t matter.  Her immature, solitary desire focused on the possibility of a food reward doesn’t matter either.

What matters is that my words have found release.  There is no critic, only dumb, lovely acceptance and hope.  Maybe, just maybe, this is why ‘dog’ spelled backwards is “God.” In her listening, the genius of dumb coincidence meets the knowledge that in a world filled with words, there is one creature who listens to me as if I were the only one.



Words are just the hooks I hang my life on.

Some times the hooks are like the ones in the back of the fifth/sixth grade classroom.  The carefully, colored counties of Oregon were pinned up neatly on the sliding cork board while our coats lurked underneath like empty prisoners.

Some times the coats fell off and lurked around the bottom like sleepy escapees from a gulag among the umbrellas and rain boots.  It was a half-hearted attempt to find freedom.  On Friday, that week’s “Sergeant at Arms” would carry out their duty and impose order on all those coats.  Chaos and disorder were not to be tolerated for long.  As for that Sergeant of Arms,   it was never clear exactly what a “Sergeant at Arms” duty was.  Why would anyone ever need to keep order at a meeting and how did a meeting have anything to do with the classroom?  None of us where going to openly oppose Sister Emily.  Even the boldest child was still a little bit afraid of her.  We didn’t need a Sergeant at Arms.  We did need an occasional organizer of coats and miscellany.  And, we needed hooks to hang our lives on.

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This is a copy of a pastel was done by Carol DeGregory. You can enjoy more of her art work at www.caroldegregory.com

This simple dream-like landscape stood out among all the other pastels.   Standing before the print in the gallery,  I see myself.  The contrast between the glowing earth and the turbulent sky reflects something back to me.   I am the sky and I long to be the earth.

The storm carries me.   What I want and where I am are as different as field and sky.  A hole in my clouds casts autumn’s orange light on the earth below.

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Blink is the name of a book by Malcolm Gladwell.  It’s about thinking without thinking.  Maybe there is room for a book called Blank.  It would be about not thinking without not thinking.  That’s what I’ve been doing lately.  Blank pretty much describes it.  It’s not that I haven’t had thoughts or inspirations or creative ideas but holding on to them, sorting them out, confining them with words has been a bit beyond me.  My mind has been a huge swimming pool and I’m floating on top in one of those comfy air mattresses.  You know, the kind with the fancy cup holders and arm rests.  While out on the water, I have fallen asleep.  If you listen closely, you can hear me snore.  Actually, you probably don’t have to listen closely at all.  I snore very loudly.

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A Cautionary Tale

On a beautiful Sunday summer afternoon, I spend hours watching a lengthy documentary about a trial in North Carolina.  A man stands accused of murdering his wife.  From the beginning, the police decide he is guilty and assemble “evidence” based on this premise.  Forensic tests also betray this bias.  The tests are devised to prove their theory.  They are not open-ended.  There is no room for them to be wrong.  The man is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.  The remaining family is fractured by the ordeal.  Members taking opposing sides.  The accused maintains his innocence.

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The Beginning of Love

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.   Thomas Merton
Yesterday, I wrote for over two hours but still didn’t really have anything to say.  It took a while for me to realize that I wasn’t really saying anything.  Words can be fun to play with and so easy to get lost in.  I was using them as a shield so I could avoid feeling or taking action.  Fortunately, the fact that I was feeling that I was sounding pretty smart was a huge red flag and saved me from pushing the publish button.  Any time, I start to get too cerebral or show off by dropping a smart sounding name or two, watch out.  I probably in over my head.


photo taken by Ruben Holthuijsen found on Flickr Creative Commons

Certainty.  It’s what I’ve been chasing.  I’ve been surrounding myself with people of strong conviction.

Six months ago, at a church-sponsored rummage sale, I filled in a little card that said I was interested in Bible study.  My actions did not make sense to me at the time.  Soon, I was paired with a woman that I instantly liked.  I enjoy her visits but the Bible study not so much.  Try as I might I can not accept a literal view of scripture.  I believe in evolution, that God is non-denominational and that collectively we’re all just guessing when it comes to “defining” God.  As for the end times,  I’m not concerned with the number of years between comings or whether or not God ends the suffering of the wicked with oblivion or eternal torment.  These issues are angels dancing on pin heads.  They aren’t relevant to me.  I really don’t care.  I have a really difficult time believing that a God would be all that interested in the punishment of the wicked.  I want to believe that Love will trump all in the end.  I don’t know what that means and I live with uncertainty.    These are beliefs that I usually keep to myself.  I’m a fish who desperately wants to be a bird.  Wishing just can’t make it so.  Certainty floats beyond my grasp.

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I am the person behind the words printed here. I write because my heart will not allow me the option of NOT writing. It has taken me half a life time to discover this basic truth, but now that I have, writing is as natural as breathing. This is where my breath takes the form of words.


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The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)
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