I'm Just Saying

The Things We Learned Last Summer

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetFrank Sinatra has a song entitled, “The Things We Did Last Summer.” Of course, music being what it is, he’s not the only one who ever sang that song, but as we’re all aware he’s the most important.

I’ve had the title of this song on my mind for quite a while now. You see, the last four months or so of my life have taught me a lot. Particularly the last two months. And for some reason, every time my writer mind tries to make sense of all the lessons I’ve learned this song title comes to my mind. But with a twist. And I’ve decided that if I were to ever write a book about everything I’ve learned in the last two months, I’d title it, “The Things We Learned Last Summer.”

I personally think it’s a pretty great title. It would also be a very good book, too, for that matter.

All of you are aware that this blog has been an interesting place lately. I, Jordan, the queen of keeping my readers in the dark about what’s going on in my life, have been very, very open about my recent heartbreak.

My life just came to the point where I truly and honestly did not care anymore. Every decision was prefaced with a, “Well. Why not?”

So all of you got to see very clearly and deeply into some of the blackest moments of my life. Congratulations. I’m sure it was thrilling for you. (Please note the sarcasm, I’m sure it wasn’t that fun.)capacity

But goodness, I’ve learned a lot. God has been super enthused about teaching me lessons, and I’m doing all that I can to absorb them like a sponge. Tonight I’m feeling a little more introspective than usual, which can only spell disaster to be honest but we’ll roll with it. I’d like to here record a few of the lessons I’ve learned. I’m doing this more for myself than for any of you, so I apologize for that, but hopefully you can take something from this post and not have to learn through experience the way that I did. So, here we go.

The Things We Learned Last Summer:

  • The only one who knows exactly how you’re feeling is God. He knows every aspect of your life, and He’s right there for you. No matter what type of heartache you are facing, He understands. He gets it 100%. I can’t even count the number of times I sat crying and felt Him right there, or the number of times I was suddenly assaulted by memories that caused a jolt of pain and heard Him whisper very love is powerfulsimply, “I know.” He knows. I promise.
  • As scary as love is, it is absolutely worth it. I spent such a long time being terrified of love, and swearing that I’d never let anybody in so far that they’d have power to destroy me. But that’s what love is. You let somebody in further than you even let yourself in, and you give them all of your love and trust. Every single infinite wave of it. And sometimes it hurts. But it is worth it because at the end of the day, love is absolutely beautiful. And it conquers all. It really, really does. Love comes from many different places, and in many different forms, but it can heal wounds and transcend all hurts.
  • Never give up on anyone. Including yourself. God will never, ever give up on you. And you shouldn’t give up on others, either. Or yourself for that matter. We are all going to make mistakes, we are all going to do things that hurt others. We’re human, that’s just the way it works. never give up
  • But we forgive. We forgive because it is the right thing to do. We forgive because we want to be forgiven. We forgive because it is the only way to heal. Forgiveness requires love. They go hand in hand.
  • Listen to God. I’ve been taught this so, so much over the last year or so, and it has really been driven home the last two months. When you receive an answer from God, when you know what you are supposed to do: DO IT. It doesn’t matter how crazy it seems, it doesn’t matter how ridiculous. It doesn’t matter how hard. JUST. DO. IT. If He has given you the answer, He will also provide a way for you to accomplish it. Just listen. Just do it.
  • Be patient. Life is a process.
  • Avoid slamming doors. Literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, slamming doors is just not good for them. In a figurative sense, it is not good for you or others. Believe me, my personality is the queen of slamming doors. It is a defense mechanism that I may or may not have expressed pride in before. I’m quickly learning it’s not something to be proud of. When something horrible happens to me, my very first instinct is to slam the door as hard as I can right pathand run away as fast as I can. To get rid of anything and everything to do with that situation, to treat it as though it is dead to me, and completely move on as though it never existed or occurred. This is not only very complicated (you have no idea how irritating it is when you think you’ve gotten rid of all the evidence of something only to find more evidence weeks later when you aren’t as angry and can’t decide what to do with it) but it’s just not really healthy. And doesn’t promote growth and learning. Most of the time, you’ll be slamming a door prematurely and burning a bridge that wasn’t ready to be burned. And then it takes a little bit of time to reestablish things all because you got a little too hasty to run away from what hurt you. So just don’t do it.
  • Stay creative. It fills a lot of empty spaces, and enhances the full ones.
  • There are, in fact, some things that Frank Sinatra can’t fix. I know. I was just as shocked as you are. For years and years and years I not only wholeheartedly believed Frank could fix anything, he always had fixed anything in my life. No matter what I was going through, it was nothing that Frank Sinatra couldn’t fix. Not this time. Not this time. I tried it, believe me. I played his music and willed it work away the grief, to pull away the emptiness. But it didn’t. Not this time. I even angrily asked him about it and his picture seemed to answer back, “I can’t fix it this time, baby. I’m sorry.” hands of god
  • Never stop turning to God. I needed to learn the previous point in order to better understand this point. My love for Frank Sinatra has brought a lot of happiness into my life, really, and despite how melodramatic I can be about it I’m very grateful for it. His music makes me happy, and I enjoy sharing facts about him. It’s always been a blessing. I have a firm belief that God gives us things like this to enhance and brighten our existence, to help us in good and bad times. But these interests that fill the corners of our lives are not a substitute for God. They make us happy, they are wonderful, but at the end of the day it isn’t our passion for cooking or our love of black and white film that will save us. It is God. Never stop turning to Him. On good days as well as bad, talk with Him. Tell Him everything. Review the plan of your life. Let Him know how you’re doing on the things you’ve agreed to do. Give Him a report. Make sure you’re still doing what He wants. Thank Him. Praise Him.
  • Trust your own journey. God has a different plan for each and every one of us. Nobody’s story is the same. What works for some people won’t work for others. Everybody has a different journey because we all need to learn differently. This is why it is so, so incredibly crucial to stay close to God and to listen to Him when He waygives us answers and direction. To be faithful.
  • Believe in happiness. Never, ever let go of hope. Never let go of love. In the darkest pit of despair, remember that you are never, ever alone because of God. If you can’t see the sunlight, and can’t remember how it feels to have it shine on your face, if happiness is so far away that it is only a cruel memory, just have hope. Hope that you’ll feel it again. Hope that it does exist. Believe that whatever you’re going through will be worth it one hundred times over when you feel the happiness awaiting you. Because when we get to that darkness, complete joy and happiness are closer than we think. Just around the corner. And when the sun finally comes out again, it will be worth every moment. I promise.
  • We all face hardship, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, and telling people that you need it. There is no shame in sleeping on lots of couches or spending too much time with your friends if that’s what it takes to bring you into a new day. Take advantage of the love and support that you have around you. Gather those people around your heart and let them love you. You’ll be able to return this love someday.never walk alone
  • Discover new interests, and rediscover old ones. Like I said, God gives us these things to enhance our lives. It is such a great experience to make room for a new talent or hobby, to feel that passion starting up in your life again. Take advantage of the beauty the world has to offer. Rediscover something you love. Pretend you’re seeing it for the first time. (Frank and I are on good terms, by the way. I’m listening to him right now and all is well. So, there you go, proof of the rediscovery process.)
  • Believe in goodness. I have this personality flaw where I sometimes say that I hate people. And when I say that I usually think I mean it, but somebody very close to me recently let me know that this isn’t the case. I don’t really hate people. In fact, I love people. I love humanity. I love every aspect of what makes us human. I love being human. And I have this overly optimistic view of what that means. Honestly, I do. I love to believe in the better side of people and things. It really takes a lot for me to just think of somebody as downright horrible. I love to believe in beauty and goodness. I love to believe in the good. That’s just who I am. And it is honestly a blessing. We are surrounded by enough negativity as it is. We face enough hardship and sorrow as it be stillis. Just choose to believe in the better side.
  • Don’t look back. When you’ve gotten your answer from God, no matter how scary, ridiculous, or insane it might seem and you decide to just jump and go for it, go all the way. Jump and do not look back. DO NOT LOOK BACK. God has got it covered. He’s led you to that cliff for a reason, and given you that answer for a reason. And He will not let you fail if you just have faith. There will be no hitting the bottom. You’ll jump, and you’ll land in happiness. I promise. Don’t look back. Not for one second. Jump.
  • Trust God. This is just a lump way of summing all this up. Just trust Him. I know it can be hard. Believe me, I know. I’ve got a rich history of trust issues. But He is God, and He created all things. He will not give you answers you cannot follow. He will not let you cry tears He can’t wipe away. He will not give you wounds that can’t be healed. He is capable of ALL THINGS. And through Him, we are capable of ALL THINGS. So no matter what, stay close to Him. Believe Him. Listen to Him. Trust Him. He’s got it under control. Just believe me. Follow Him, talk with Him, and trust the path He sets before you. He wants you to be happy and He’s got a plan to make that happen. Trust Him.

 

Just Writing

9 Wishes

9 Wishes

I wish this wasn’t a chance that I missed
I wish that life wasn’t full of learning
I wish there was a way to tell you this
I’m sure the words I sent left you burning

I wish I had not used my words to bruise
And that my healing was going faster
That I’d remembered all I know of you
Before I turned myself to attacker

I wish you knew that you are forgiven
I know you never wanted to hurt me
I wish you’d read these new words I’ve written
I wish you would remember the good things

Here I am, writing sonnets of wishing
Wishing wishes, ever slowly healing

Just Writing

Heartbeat Part 4

My broken heart has been a funny thing.

Actually, in case you didn’t get this, it hasn’t been funny at all. Like…at all. After one month, I expected to be better. I expected it to not hurt any more. I thought that by now I’d have moved on. I’d have forgotten. I’d be okay.

Well, that isn’t really the case. It still hurts so badly sometimes that I have to wonder how I made it this far. I still feel so confused about so many things. I’d still give anything to have it be different.

But God is teaching me things.

I’ve always been the type of person who could look ahead and see myself in the future. I’ve always been able to just see ahead. That hasn’t been the case for me recently. Every time I try and look ahead past the next hour, all I see is darkness. So I’ve been praying about this very sudden shift in my vision. And what do you suppose He said in response?

“Be patient.” God said. “I have a plan. I need you to trust me.” God has been pretty adamant about teaching me patience and trust in the last year and a half. Don’t even get me started. He keeps telling me things like, “I have everything under control. You work on you. Fix you. Leave the rest to me.”

You’d think that this would be easy.

Turns out it isn’t. It turns out that I like to be in control of my life a little bit more than I was aware of. So this moment in my life, when I can literally only see for one hour at a time, is really hard for me. It is really hard for me to simply let go. To trust that God has a plan, that ultimately He is in charge, and that no matter what happens in the near future it will all work out the way that it is supposed to.

I’ve realized that pretty much everything is easier said than done. This last month of my life has been so incredibly hard. There aren’t words for it, actually. I honestly wasn’t aware that a person could feel this kind of emotional pain and live through it.

But somehow my heart is still beating.

I wish I knew what the ending was. As an author, I’m pretty used to knowing the ending of things. I feel very out of my element right now. But God is teaching me things, so I have to trust Him. The truth is that I don’t know what the ending is. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or the day after that. And right now, I know that I’m not supposed to know. I’m just supposed to have faith. Trust God.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t have my hopes or desires. I was praying about them earlier today, in the middle of a particularly hard moment when I couldn’t believe it still hurt that badly. God let me know very quickly that He understands exactly where I’m at, and He’s got everything under control. I get this feeling that something big is coming in my life. Something wonderful, just around the corner, and I need to be ready for it. God is just asking for a little bit of faith and trust, and something totally amazing is going to happen. I know it. I have literally no idea what this something is. But I know that it’s coming. One of my best friends in the world, Adele, said to me today, “You don’t have to know what it is. You’ve been given all the answers you need. Just move forward, hour by hour.”

She’s right. She’s pretty much always right.

Sometimes the pain is so fresh, like it just happened yesterday. And it feels like I’m drowning in it. And I can’t get to help fast enough before I absolutely lose it and cry so hard I can’t breathe. Sometimes I feel so confused and angry I could scream.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t learned anything, though. There have been a ridiculous amount of blessings in my life in the last month. I’ve repaired relationships with siblings, become closer to my friends, spent much needed time with my grandparents, gotten a stronger relationship with my dad, and have had countless moments with God. He and I have talked so much about all of this. And it has been really wonderful. God is good, everyone. He is so, so good.

I’ve realized so many things about life.

I have realized that life is scary. And love is scary. And there are a million things to be unsure about and worried over. And I’ve also realized that there will never be a moment when you feel you are 100% ready. It’s going to be terrifying. There’s going to be things you don’t know. So many of them. But you just have to do it. Just jump. That’s all life is. A lot of jumping off cliffs when you only have the tiniest seed of faith in your pocket.

I have also realized that for too much of my life, my priorities were ridiculously out of wack. There’s a really long backstory as to why that was the case, but I spent so many years being bitter and angry about the things that are the most important. I don’t feel that way anymore. Not in the slightest. Those things I was so angry about, those things I was so scared of, they are all I want now.

God is teaching me so many things.

Tonight was hard. Today was hard. I left work with a very heavy heart. The steering wheel of my car got washed with a lot of tears tonight. My very wonderful roommate got bombarded with a lot of my pain tonight.

Then she suggested we go for a drive. We ended up on top of the hill in our city. We shut the car lights off, unrolled the windows, turned on some music, and sat on the hood of the car looking up at the sky. It was absolutely stunning.

I felt truly happy for the first time since it happened.

We talked about God. About how He has a plan, and ultimately He is in charge, and sometimes we just have to have faith that everything is going to work out. Right as we were saying this, an absolutely stunning shooting star zoomed across the sky right in front of us. It had two tails. I’m taking it as a sign.

We laughed a lot, too. I can’t even remember what about. All I know is that it felt good to laugh again. God has been feeding me constant support and hope recently. He has never left my side. He’s given me numerous answers, and always sent me help in the moments that I needed it most.

I know there is hope.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow. And it will probably hurt again tomorrow, because it hasn’t stopped hurting. But tonight I saw a shooting star.

And today God told me He has a plan. He asked for my patience. He asked for my faith. He told me He understood what my hopes, desires, and pain are, and He’s got it under control.

This is what He told me.

And for now that’s all I need.

Just Writing

Heartbeat

A broken heart is a funny thing.

At first it doesn’t feel real. The world goes a little blurry and on the surface you’re doing and saying things, but underneath you wonder if it really happened.

Then the emptiness comes. And the reality sets in. And there is no reason to check your phone anymore but you keep doing it. And there is no reason to wait for a call that won’t come, but you still wait. And worse than wondering why is wondering how.

That is when it becomes the most real thing in the world.

And suddenly the feeling of it not being real is replaced by a hole inside of you that keeps getting bigger and bigger. Until you fall inside of it. And you feel lost between trying to climb back out and trying to fill it up. Which do you do first? How do you do either?

Eventually pretending you’re okay is doable. You can laugh about things. Be okay for just a moment. Maybe even forget when you can finally fall asleep.

But the emptiness doesn’t leave.

It does evolve though. And rather than walking around with a gaping hole it feels like a fire. It is lit inside the place where they lived, and burns slowly from the inside out every time you remember. But it never reaches the outside. It just continues to burn.

Remembering is the cruelest part. You have to decide which parts to remember, and which parts to forget. But you never really forget. Do you? And you fight the urge to remember, and you fight the urge to forget. And you’re caught somewhere in the middle.

Why does your heart keep beating?

There are silver linings, I suppose. Lessons that needed learning. You learn how to sympathize. You learn to understand. You learn that the worst pain in the world isn’t physical. You learn who is there for you. And sleep on a lot of couches just so you don’t have to be alone.

Life takes on new shapes. Decisions have to be made now that your future is different. You try and be grateful for all the goodness, and there are brief moments of sunshine. They make the waves a tiny bit better.

Because there are a lot of waves.

Waves of grief. They hit you when you least expect it. Waves of questions you wished you had asked. Waves of longing that widen the hole and stoke the fire. Waves of wondering. Waves of wishing. Waves of pure confusion. An entire ocean inside of you.

There is no more waiting. There is no reason to. None. And yet it is the only thing you know how to do anymore. So you’ll wait. At least for a little while. A piece of your soul will wait forever.

Sometimes there is too much to feel.

So you have to choose. Do you curl up and feel it all? This choice is the one that ends in more tears than you knew you could produce. They soak your pillow. And the shirts of your friends. The coats of your brothers. The blonde hair of your nieces and nephews that pile on top of you.

Or do you push it away? Forget about it all? Pretend it never happened? That only works for a minute. It catches up to you eventually when you suddenly hear a song, a word, a phrase, a movie, see a restaurant. When the memories are everywhere, they are inescapable. It will all catch up to you. And you’ll end up with the first choice anyway. In the tears. But not on your own couch, or your own hallway. Far away from the memories until walking through them doesn’t hurt anymore.

Why does your heart keep beating?

They all tell you to write it out. “It’s what you do.” They say. “It will help you feel better.” But you’ve forgotten how to write. How do you write without feeling it all? Maybe cry first, and then you can write numbly. Put it into a sort of poem. Then it becomes a project.

There are some moments of peace. When a little voice tells you there is a plan. And you hold on to this idea. That there is a plan. And for a moment you feel better, because having a plan is better than navigating the pain. So you wake up in the morning, on a different couch or maybe in your bed. You learn about colonial America. You go back to work. You spend money on frivolous things. You spend too much time with your friends. And you do the best you can.

And you try not to think about the fact that no matter what, at the end of the day, they are still gone.

You try and move forward. Moving on isn’t in the cards right now, because you don’t think about tomorrow. But you can move forward. Hour by hour. Remembering the things you love. Even though you’ve discovered that there are some things even Frank Sinatra can’t fix.

You send out your love. Because even though you wish it wasn’t, it is still there. And you pray they can feel it. You don’t want to become bitter. You remind yourself that love is beautiful. That it can conquer all. But in order to do so, you have to let it. Being in love is a frightening thing. You have to give yourself wholly to it, or it will fall apart. You have to stop thinking so much, or it will disappear. You have to have faith, or the fear will creep in.

These are the things you tell yourself. Hour by hour.

And somehow your heart keeps beating.

Just Writing

The Enlightenment of Pierre Ventoux

Recently, every person in my university who is in the English Department was invited to submit work into a writing competition. Now, for reasons that allude me I generally don’t participate in things like this. (I really need to get over my fear of sharing my writing if I’m ever going to be an author.)

Another reason I have a hard time submitting work to these things is because I’m, in general, just a novelist. I don’t write much of anything else, and usually all the other things are what you submit to things like this. However, this time I conquered all of that and I actually wrote a short story.

Let me tell you, short stories are basically my biggest fear because they are so, so incredibly difficult to write. Give me a few months and 50,000 words or so and I’ll crank out a novel for you. No problem. But a short story???? Sure. Let’s cram everything we need to say into a few pages and try and make it change the world. That’ll be fun.

That is why I’m actually quite proud of myself and more than a little intrigued about how all of this will play out. Quite honestly, this short story could be complete garbage for all I know, except for the fact that I actually wrote one. That’s exciting in and of itself. And since I never, ever, ever share my writing on this blog (Don’t even get me started on that little bit of insanity. How ridiculous is it that I can’t even share my writing on my own blog?! Besides the occasional poem. I do feel okay sharing those.), I’ve decided to share my short story with you today.

Feel free to comment if you wish, tell me what you think! But mostly just thank you for reading! I hope you enjoy it!


The Enlightenment of Pierre Ventoux

Every morning at a quarter to nine, Pierre Ventoux rode his red bicycle up the lane to the bookshop. It wasn’t a new bicycle, but kept in good repair and therefore still a very shiny red, with only one scratch near the front tire.

As soon as he reached the bookshop, known simply by a sign that read Books in faded gold letters, he settled his bike against the red brick of the building and walked inside.

The shop was never exactly neat and never exactly cluttered. Stacks of books sometimes teetered precariously on the end of old pine tables, some with bright colors and new faces and others with faded pages and cracked bindings. Each of them, however, were equally loved by the proprietor of the establishment. He was known only as Paul, and most singularly recognized for his failure to believe in any one thing. His greatest passion was the pursuit of knowledge without the finality of finding answers.

Pierre generally found Paul lost somewhere near the back, ever reorganizing his philosophy section while others lived with less avid attention. Paul was always thinking of new ways to arrange the section, by author, by topic, by the chronological flow of philosophy. His ideas never ceased to end, but one would expect this from a man who refused to believe anything with conviction.

Some days Pierre would sit in the corner of the bookshop in a faded chair so stuffed he was often afraid it would burst. He’d rest his feet on the old braided rug in front of him and consume whatever prose Paul had waiting for him. Pierre often left the bookstore even more contemplative than when he’d entered, and usually with more books to add to the piles he was accumulating. There were days when he was never entirely sure exactly why he went to the bookshop, but it had now become an irrevocable habit.

On one particular morning, a Thursday, Pierre entered the shop a bit more cast down than usual. Storm clouds were gathering beyond the gray rooftops of the town, threatening to choke out the sun that was for the moment shining brilliantly.

“Looks like rain’ll be coming soon.” Paul observed, startling Pierre from his sullen thoughts only to shove him right back inside them.

“Yes.” He answered a bit tersely, following the old man back into the shelves. Pierre had never been able to figure out how old Paul was, for on top of what looked like years of living sat cheery green eyes and a jet black beard.

“No need to get moody now, young man.” Paul reasoned, shuffling through some old books in a corner. “You can’t control the weather. I’ve been trying to figure out that secret for years.”

“Not that you’d act on it if you did.” Pierre hadn’t meant it to come out so reproachfully, but was surprised when Paul simply laughed and nodded at the accuracy of the statement. Pierre sometimes wondered if the man ever became exhausted at the continual pursuit of truth without any destination. Weren’t they all attempting to get somewhere?

“What are you looking for today?” Paul surprised him by asking, usually he had a pile of books waiting for Pierre.

“Something to cheer me up.”

“Then I suggest you stick to the front of the store, with the fiction. Truth and cheer are two entirely different things.” Pierre bit back a sharp comment on the edge of his tongue, not entirely understanding why Paul’s belief system suddenly irritated him. But surely the man had to believe in something.

The shop was quiet for several moments while Pierre perused the shelves, every once in a while hearing the sliding and thudding of Paul’s reorganizational efforts. Pierre saw many different titles jump before his eyes, but none of them seemed anything he needed that day. It was almost as though a thought was forming inside his mind, an ember of desire, and any moment it would burst into flame. How long it had been there Pierre didn’t know, but the sensation was uncomfortable.

“Aren’t you ever tired by the continual journey, Paul?” He finally asked, turning to meet the man’s eyes across his armful of Plato. “Isn’t there anything that you know for certain?”

Paul approached him then, weaving through the shelves of his world, and without saying anything reached behind Pierre to take a small book from the shelf behind him. It was small, about the size of a volume of poetry, with a cover completely faded to gray. The old man smiled a little looking at it, as though it was a friend he’d not seen in a long while, and placed the book carefully in Pierre’s hands.

“The secret is to understand, without a shadow of a doubt, what it is you are actually looking for.” His voice held a smile. “Perhaps that is what you need to know first.”

Pierre stepped out of the shop moments later, just as the bells of St. Edward’s Cathedral rang the hour. One could always see the tower of the cathedral anywhere in town, but as he looked at it that day it seemed taller than he’d ever seen it.

“Nine o’ clock. Right on the nose.” Pierre turned abruptly to see Giselle, the owner of the shop next to Paul’s. It was so close to the bookstore that the two buildings seemed mashed together.

“How are you today, Giselle?” His voice sounded shaky and unsure, and it made her laugh and shake her brown curls.

“You’ve been with Paul only moments and look what he’s done to you.” She said it cheerily, and all but pulled Pierre inside with her. “Come in and have some tea.”

Giselle’s shop was a mix of tea and all things knitted. In the front of the store the walls were lined with racks of intensely colored scarves, hats, gloves, and even blankets. Beyond the brightness of that stood a clean bar with four stools adorned with brilliantly colored cushions. At this bar Giselle only served tea, though occasionally coffee, and a variety of baked goods.

“Put philosophy and the pursuit of undeniable truth to the side for just a moment, Pierre.” Giselle said, setting a cup and saucer decorated with purple swirls in front of him. “There is very little that tea cannot fix.”

Pierre was silent for a moment as he sipped the tea, still holding the small gray book in his hand. He often felt a huge shift in life when he went from the bookstore to Giselle’s little shop. Paul thought of life on grand, deep, and unfathomable terms, and to Giselle life was simple and happy.

“Paul believes that truth and cheer are two entirely different things.” Pierre said, finishing his tea only to have her refill it. “What do you think?”

“I think you worry too much.” Her voice was strong and without hesitation. “Since you arrived here, all you’ve done is visit that little bookstore and sometimes come here for tea. I see this sort of desire in you for something more, but yet I don’t think you even know what that is. And truthfully, Pierre, life is much simpler than you’re making it out to be.” Giselle poured herself tea into an indigo colored cup and reached for the sugar. “I think the answers are closer than you realize.”

It had been a very long time since Pierre had traveled further up the road than Giselle’s shop. He stepped outside and continued walking, leaving the mashed buildings on their corner while he wound his way through the streets. He did not walk with purpose or direction, and yet was unsurprised when he found himself just outside the cathedral grounds.

St. Edward’s rose before him tall and grand, the building falling outwards from the tower that stood in the center. It was surrounded by a lawn of brilliant green grass, so brilliant it almost hurt his eyes, with a black rail fence marking the edge. The gates were always flung wide open, beckoning in the troubled soul. But Pierre had never walked past them. He had only ever stood at the gate, looking in. It was strange to think of when he remembered that this building was the reason he was even in this place to begin with.

He remembered vividly the day he’d seen the tower from the road, and had almost been magnetically pulled into town. He had come and stood just like this, right outside the gate, and stared at the building. Magnificent it surely was, and beautiful, but more than that, it was peaceful. That day as well as this day, Pierre had only to stand at the gates of the grounds to feel a peace so overwhelming it nearly knocked him over. And yet he’d never been able to understand this feeling, and had come to almost fear it. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d allowed himself to get this close.

Once again he looked down at the faded gray book in his hands, turning it over to see both sides of the ragged cover. It didn’t even have a title anymore. Pierre tucked it inside his jacket and looked back up towards the cathedral. And then he took one step forward, and another, and yet another, until he found himself walking quietly through large doors and into a building that was both beautiful and frightening.

The very first thing he saw was the ceiling, highly arched above him and painted with circles depicting different saints. The knave seemed very long, stretching out before him towards the altar. For a moment, he nearly turned around and left. It was so large, and yet so full of something that he almost couldn’t endure it. But that was when the music began.

He could see nobody nearby, in fact at first he’d imagined he could hear his own breath echoing throughout the vastness, but yet organ music began filling every empty corner. And suddenly he couldn’t take all of it in quickly enough. Not the beautiful side chapels or places to light candles, or the monuments and statues.

He stood in awe at the sight of a courtyard which housed two magnificent trees one couldn’t see from the outside of the building. And yet they stretched their limbs and grew inside their perfect square of bright grass. They knew something he didn’t know, and Pierre acknowledged that with a serene sort of ache. It seemed hours before he could pry himself away from such a sight and enter back inside the main cathedral.

Above the altar rose three pointed arches, and beyond them three stained glass windows with hues so vividly blue it was nearly unbearable. He sat quietly in the very front row of chairs, hardly worthy to kneel before such a place. Though the organ music had now stopped, the essence of it seemed to still be breathing throughout the room. He could almost see it.

Several times he took the little gray book out of his jacket, turning it over and over in his hands, but never opening it. The book had certainly been well loved throughout the years, though was surprisingly intact. He finally tucked the book back inside his jacket one last time, looking beyond the altar to the sunlight pouring through the stained glass. He couldn’t make out the scene being portrayed in the glass, but the shadows it cast were stunning.

Pierre sat in this way for long moments, utterly absorbed in his thoughts and yet unable to think much of anything. He sensed, rather, that he was soaking everything in as he’d never been able to before. And he felt something, just where that ember had been this morning, so akin to joy he knew it must be that. He was so unfamiliar with such a feeling. It had always seemed too real to be safe.

After some time, Pierre finally stood, breaking his gaze with the altar and stained glass as he walked in a straight line back to the doors of the cathedral. His steps, though not hurried, made sure sounds against the stone floor. As he left the building he worried for just a moment that perhaps all of this might leave him once he’d passed the sanctuary of the gates, but it didn’t happen. He stopped for just a moment and stood where he had before, staring at the building before him and wondering how he could’ve never gone inside until now.

The streets greeted him some moments later, but they didn’t hurry him along. He had a view of the cathedral for a long while, each time he glanced back. Briefly he felt the shape of the book in his jacket and thought that he’d have to return it to Paul the next morning. Pierre turned to his right and began walking home then, just as he heard the cathedral bells ring twelve times.

 

I'm Just Saying

Noble & Brave

brave-wingsMany of you know that my ancestry is Scottish. Most of my ancestors came to the United States from Scotland, and this is an incredibly important thing to me. My ancestry means more to me than I could ever explain accurately.

I’m sure that most of us have seen the movie Braveheart, and to be truthful there are many and varied opinions of this movie. The jokes and jibes where this movie is concerned have been plentiful over the years. But I love this movie so much, because I think that if you can get to the root of it, what’s it is really trying to say, it embodies absolutely everything that those people stood for and wanted to accomplish.

One day I was watching the extras for the film and watched an interview with the actress who plays the Princess of Wales. While describing her character, she said something I’ve never been able to forget, “I think that she is a very noble person.”

Despite the historical inaccuracies of her character being in the film, this hit me so hardqueen because it is true. She is a very noble woman, and I find that very inspiring. It has led me into a debate that has lasted years over the question: What does it mean to be noble?

This question, combined with others that always course through my mind while I watch this movie, always gives me a strange sort of empowerment. It helps me feel the bravery of a man who set out to obtain freedom and justice for his countrymen, and never lived to see it.

It helps me feel brave. And it helps me understand the concept of being noble.

To be both noble and brave is a rare thing, I think. But I want to be those things.

be-braveBeing brave is scary, honestly, but I guess that’s the point. I had an incredible moment last night when I realized that when you’re brave, it means to look forward with an eye towards peace. You’re doing something hard, but something that will bring you peace and happiness later in life.

To be noble is the highest thing I think you can be. It is to be brave and strong, yet understand your weaknesses and frailties. It is to take the purest, best part of yourself and project it outwards to the world.

Let’s be noble and brave, shall we?

I'm Just Saying

Half in Love

roseI used to think that love was something you fell into. What can I say, I’ve always been a completely incurable romantic. The idea that fate or destiny or some force other than yourself could bring you together with another human and you could just find something in them that you’d always been searching for, almost by accident, long caused my girlish heart to pound with ridiculous joy.

What could possibly be more romantic than that?

But as the years have passed, and I’ve had to experience this thing often referred to as life, I’ve had a lot of opportunities to grow. Oddly enough, many of these opportunities come in the form of novels that I write. And because I personally think a novel would be pointless without it, all of my novels feature romance.

But as I’ve grown as a writer from the stage of every character being the exact same person no matter the novel to the stage of realizing that I’m supposed to be creating actual people – with personalities and everything, I’ve realized a lot of different things. In studying people and trying to recreate them in my novels, I’ve learned a great deal about people in general and what it means to love.

And besides that, I’ve learned so much spiritually over the last few years.

I’m just going to give it to you bluntly, as I’m a fan of blunt things. All of these different writing opportunities and spiritual growth have brought me to one very bold and life changing reality:

“Falling in love” is complete and total crap.

Seriously.true love

Just stop a moment and walk through this with me. We are human beings with brains that make decisions every single day. We have this ability to choose. We have this ability to discern right from wrong. We are not cookie cutter things that are just thrown out to “fate” or “destiny” or whatever.

Now before you get the wrong conclusion, please note that because I’m this crazy type of romantic person I believe wholeheartedly  in true love. I believe in fate and I believe in destiny. I do not, however, believe that something as beautiful as true love is out of our control.

No, sir. I don’t believe that for a second.

I think you meet somebody in your life, and then one day you choose them. You choose to love them. You choose them because they make everything right and wrong all at the same time, because they make you laugh at really dumb jokes, and hug you when you’re at your worst.

Love, my friends, does not just “happen”.

choice thingLove is created. Love is sustained. Love is a choice.

Think about this: you meet somebody, perhaps by accident, and you get to know them, and you create this love between you by getting to know each other, and then one day you choose each other. You choose each other because it is the only thing that makes sense.

What could possibly be more romantic than that?