When Words Inspire

It was still dark out when I walked down to my daughter and son-in-law’s house to babysit two of my grandchildren while they took Jacob for a three-month post-cancer CT scan. (which turned out all clear, praise God) Before I left home, I grabbed a cup of coffee, my writing bag and a book off my “to-read” shelf.  Three-year-old Joseph (aka Jo-Jo) woke up before his parent’s left and allowed me to snuggle with him on the couch. While he watched a cartoon, I started reading The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux. Few authors have spoken so many of my own thoughts about writing and about losing someone so well. Madeleine L’Engle was another.  I yearned for Post-It notes to mark passages. I wanted my own journal to jot down pertinent paragraphs and sentiments. Nuggets of wisdom like this:

‘Thinking about Mother, I compare her to the late stage of a dandelion. All the earlier, fleshy brilliance is gone. Now she is a fluffy globe of light, holding herself erect as ever but ready, with one puff, to fly away, be gone.” (page 39)

That was my mother, after her cancer diagnosis.

And this:

“Whenever I think of Mom, I can’t help feeling somewhat inferior to her. By temperament and spiritual habits, she was more refined than I am. It would not make her happy for me to be thinking this way, and I am, in fact, grateful that she left behind such an astonishing life to emulate and love. But it is daunting to feel that so large a mountain remains for me to climb. By slipping over the top, she compels me to follow.” (page 167)

I finished over half the book with Jo-Jo in my lap. Later in the day, while I played cars with him for what seemed an interminable amount of time, I couldn’t wait to get back to the book. The irony did not escape me; wanting to hurry up some precious moments with my grandson in order to get back to reading a book that reinforced the importance of living in the moment. Determined to do exactly that, I played yet another round of “push the cars back and forth, while making appropriate vroom noises.” My patience was rewarded. By 2:00 in the afternoon he was sleeping in my arms once again and I finished the book.

When I got home last night I rushed to my cabinet where I had stored this lovely journal until I knew its purpose. On the front is a picture from my mother’s house last winter. Her table and chairs where I spent so many writing sessions after her death. My laptop, piles of papers, and a bright red cup of hot tea. In the background, you can see the snow through the windows. I will always treasure those months of writing in her empty house.

Some days I can think of nothing worth writing down. Fortunately, I am not alone. By my chair, I keep a small, revolving collection of essays, spiritual autobiographies, poetry, and other writer’s journals to inspire me. When I’m out of fuel, they pull me out of the creek and into a broader, deeper river.” (page 275, The Journal Keeper, by Phyllis Theroux)

Now I know my journal’s purpose. I will begin writing down the inspiring words of others, so that I can refer to them when my muse runs dry.


One thought on “When Words Inspire

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I was reading this blog entry when Joe popped his head around the computer screen, pointed to the book, and said “Grandma has this book!” lol

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