The Writing Exercise

Write a letter to a landscape or scene you pass through today.
For example, “Dear Branner Trafficway.”

Dear Mom,

You rest now in my way.
The plastic cartons I put you in
clutter the path
from
kitchen
to office.

I step around the contents of your dismembered
life
trying not to trip,
coffee cup in one hand
sheaf of papers in the other.

Squeezing past a bin
I stumble upon
your journals
tales of trips
to the woods
wildlife sightings
what happened last Tuesday,
and how Gladys brought over a pan of sweet rolls,
still warm from the oven
poems about birds and babies
dragonflies
and things you cannot change and break your heart
word snapshots and watercolor sketches –

scattered orange road construction cones
confuse the once familiar scene.

The blue china sectioned dish you fed me from,
when I kicked my legs in the high chair,
peeks over the top of another box.

Photo albums, the ducks you carved,
and all the letters and cards I ever sent you
occupy the landscape of my life
and I am no longer sure
how to get from here to there.

Periods of disorientation are part of the spiritual life Biblical theologian Walter Brueggemann tells us. Such periods precede what he calls new orientation. Brueggemann charts how the history of Israel tells the story of orientation, confusion and loss of direction, and new clarity over and over. The story culminates in the crucifixion and resurrection and then continues with the church and our individual journeys as well.

What are the inner and outer landscapes you are passing through today? Take a moment to share what you are witnessing so we all may grow closer to seeing the big picture.

Thanks to Melissa Sewell and Leah Sewell and the Topeka Writers’ Workshop for inviting me to pay attention to my landscape.

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6 responses to “The Writing Exercise

  1. My most recent landscape has been days in my mom cave taking a time-out from talking (since I have no voice). So, with little time in the office or on the phone, I study/read/gaze at my backyard. With hours in this place, I’m able to notice how 2 bluejays love my 2 birdbaths – for drinking and washing. Because I’m sure the water on these 100degree+ days is too hot, I add ice cubes. The bluejays love alternately splashing fully in the water and then sitting on the edge to shake the water off. The robins and cardinals visit in between bluejay times. What a marvelous gift for my own in between time.

  2. What a lovely surrender to what might be seen as a nuisance and a bother. A clue here perhaps for helping ourselves through periods of exile of various kinds: seeing the disorientation as a time for accepting and being where one is with eyes wide open to see what gifts are being offered.

  3. I am a passionate sailor. Today the sun is brilliant. The sky is a blinding, cloudless, uninterrupted blue. And I am staying off the beloved unbriney water of Lake Erie. It seems that the wisdom and knowledge of being 60 has said: Pamela, you won’t enjoy being out on the water today. Too hot to wear protective clothing. Too humid to tolerate layers of sun screen. So here I am … thankful for air conditioning. Reading and writing and feeling quite disoriented. Because, as I said: “I am a passionate sailor!”
    Lord, have mercy. And there it is: Mercy!

  4. Dear Beach, Dear Ocean,
    My childhood nanny, where I learned to swim, where I took my first steps and whiled away many an hour playing with my childhood friends. And most of all following my mother as I learned the art of beach walking.
    Yes I visited you not in the early dawn or late eve cool – but in mid morn heat fool that I was but I braved the crowds no longer able to shut my ears to your pleading and begging.
    Yes I felt the wet sand squinch between toes and dove and frolic in your cool waters and even tried my legs out pounding in your sands for a couple of miles.
    Though I have to be honest I did enjoy myself and shall come back just not at midday in summers heat – for though I put on strong sunscreen I am still paying 3 days later the price!
    So I yes yes I shall come and will visit you again just to a more deserted expanse of yours and at a different time of day!
    Milancie

  5. Thank you! The landscapes we pass through affect our bodies and leave traces, good and bad.

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