Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Weekly Creative Writing #12

The cone shape of the tower etched itself into the fiery sky.  Smoke danced around the tiles which made up the red pinnacle.  The flag - once proudly  declaring the crest of the family - was now limp in submission to the escaping heat, scorched and burned by the flames which tortured it earlier that day.   The geometric perfection of the summit was easily visible as it carved itself finely into the stark image of a setting sun, which mirrored the events of destruction that chanced to fall on this small castle in Spain.  A fire.  A day of war - arrows had hissed like serpents, swords had clashed with such viciousness it was as if the gates of hell were rattling every fleeting moment.  And lastly, a demonic ball of fire was catapulted from the enemy into the very bosom of the lordly structure.  Everything that could burn, burned.  Only the stony skeleton of the castle remained.  The once lively fortress now lay charred and lifeless as the night’s stingy grasp dragged it into the depths of darkness.  This tower, out of the five carefully built into the architecture of the castle, was once a chapel - a small place of refuge for the inhabitants.  No doubt, the golden instruments and decorations within it were, if not melted by the earlier river of fire, charred by smoke which wafted throughout it like a vengeful wraith.   It was wearied, defeated, weakened, but it stood.  It stood as the martyr among the others - the endurer of the crucible.  The heart of the castle no longer beat, but remained a painful, bleeding, and burning reminder of the souls which once surrounded it.  And then it sank with the sun - deep into the abyss of the night, enveloped in smoke, and moaning like a dying ember. 

For my brilliant friend's counterpart of this concurrent themed creative writing project visit: http://thebeatlesandblackcoffee.blogspot.com

Saturday, February 23, 2013

House by the Side of the Road

One of my favorite poems... =)
House by the Side of the Road
There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze the paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner's seat
Nor hurl the cynic's ban-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
I see from my house by the side of the road
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife,
But I turn not away from their smiles and tears,
Both parts of an infinite plan-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead,
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
And still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.
Let me live in my house by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish - so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.
~Sam Walter Foss~

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Creative Writing #11

“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of...”  She murmurs to herself after reading an excerpt from Blaise Pascal.  “The heart has its reasons... sure, its own tempting, misleading, deceptive reasons.”  She sighs, closes the book, walks to the nearby window and stares at the downpour of rain outside.  

There is a reason she clings to her books and her solitude so fondly.  And rarely, if ever, gives her heart away, except to that ever imaginary world beyond the real one.  There is a reason she will not allow herself to travel any farther than the walls she built over old battle grounds.  There is a reason she is afraid to fall.  She is convinced it will go wrong again.  She will fall for someone and it will be wonderful, but like the cruel past has patterned for her, it won’t last. 

Yet, the hope of it somehow working out - anything, with anyone - dawns like an inviting sunrise, to girl who willingly shuts herself up inside the darkness of the comfortable corners of her soul.  

Old memories of festive evenings and excursions, full of sweet notes and innocent laughter, no longer haunt her - no, that has long since past.  But, now, she has made it a private matter of learning her heart’s reasons - to outwit it, before it falls again.  It is a nasty, devilish combination of a fear of failure - everything going wrong again - and of learning to let go again - to be vulnerable.  Every weakness she has ever had climaxes at a fear of the past repeating itself, a fear of the present retreating itself, and a fear of the future deceiving itself. 

For my brilliant friend's counterpart of this weekly themed creative writing project: http://thebeatlesandblackcoffee.blogspot.com

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day!

A Happy Valentine's Day to the adorable couples, the ones who care, yet can only be friends, and the single folk.  In many ways, this day is directed towards all of you, not just one specific group.   Behind this day is a Saint whose life should be a testimony towards all of us.  Regardless of our relationship status, the kind of love his man portrayed is how we should learn to love.    Below is an excerpt from an article on the Roman St. Valentine... =) 

Oh! and before you all go, in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, we don't necessarily celebrate the Roman St. Valentine specifically - for various reasons - some say we celebrate on July 6th, but I'm not sure.  However, we do celebrate Hieromartyr Saint Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy) on the July the 30th, so below is a picture for my fellow Eastern Orthodox friends out there. ;)   

The article excerpt:

The Orthodox Saint Valentine

St. Valentine the Hieromartyr (Feast Day - February 14 and July 6)
The ancient martyrology of the Church of Rome marks February 14th as the remembrance of "the martyr Valentine, presbyter of Rome" (Valentinus means "vigorous" in Latin). Unfortunately the historical data for the Saint is incomplete.

The Martyrdom of the Saint in Rome

Saint Valentine lived in Rome in the third century and was a priest who helped the martyrs during the persecution of Emperor Claudius II the Goth. The great virtue and catechetical activities of the Saint had become familiar. For this he was arrested and brought before the imperial court.

"Why, Valentine, do you want to be a friend of our enemies and reject our friendship?" asked the emperor.

The Saint replied "My lord, if you knew the gift of God, you would be happy together with your empire and would reject the worship of idols and worship the true God and His Son Jesus Christ."

One of these judges stopped the Saint and asked him what he thought about Jupiter and Mercury, and Valentine boldly replied, "They are miserable, and spent their lives through corruption and crime!"

The judge furiously shouted, "He blasphemes against the gods and against the empire!"

The emperor, however, continued his questions with curiosity, and found a welcome opportunity to finally learn what was the faith of Christians. Valentine then found the courage to urge him to repent for the blood of the Christians that was shed. "Believe in Jesus Christ, be baptized and you will be saved, and from this time forward the glory of your empire will be ensured as well as the triumph of your armory."

Claudius became convinced, and said to those who were present: "What a beautiful teaching this man preaches."

But the mayor of Rome, dissatisfied, began to shout: "See how this Christian mislead our Prince."

Then Claudius brought the Saint to another judge. He was called Asterios, and he had a little girl who was blind for two years. Listening about Jesus Christ, that He is the Light of the World, he asked Valentine if he could give that light to his child. St. Valentine put his hand on her eyes and prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, true Light, illuminate this blind child." Oh the great miracle! The child saw! So the judge with all his family confessed Christ. Having fasted for three days, he destroyed the idols that were in the house and finally received Holy Baptism.

When the emperor heard about all these events, he initially thought not to punish them, thinking that in the eyes of the citizens he will look weak, which forced him to betray his sense of justice. Therefore St. Valentine along with other Christians, after they were tortured, were beheaded on 14 February in the year 268 (or 269).

For the rest of the article: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/02/orthodox-saint-valentine.html 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekly Creative Writing #10

  It is February 14th, and as I put on my earrings, I glance at the black and white photograph of my great-grandmother Mills and her sister - something mama gave me years ago.  Every daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter bears some kind of strong resemblance to the Henderson sisters. The rustic photo still smells of the archaic, apple blossom perfume which the twins must have dabbed on their wrists the night of the dance. Voncille and Vallorie Henderson. Twins in every way.  According family legend, both were born much too early and each fit into a shoe box cradle until they grew sturdier. 
You can see they stand next to each other, smiles almost identical, hair perfectly set, and only a slight height difference to tell one from the other.   
They had done everything momma told them to - put that lucky penny in their shoe, fixed their hair so it wasn’t “perfectly scandalous” but, “proper, like a true lady in want of an enjoyable evenin’.” They made sure their lace handkerchiefs were ironed with great grandma’s unforgiving starch, and, most importantly, their bodices had to be just tight enough to “show their young figure,” but loose enough to show they were still innocent girls, who “have a papa with the best marksmanship records in the proud state of Mississippi...”  
The local Baptist Church was holding a Valentine’s Day Dance that night.  The old white church stood a few miles down the road, with a curiously ancient looking steeple and old stained-glass windows lining the sides of the main chapel.  One twin smiles mischievously, determined that she will have a long awaited Valentine before the night is over, and the other beams with tenderness, at the thought of her sweetheart waiting for her.  Vallorie, the smaller one who is full of deviousness, fidgets with her hair, complaining to Momma that one curl was completely out of place, ruining “the effect.”  The taller one rolls her eyes and elbows her younger (by a couple of minutes) sister.  She is breathing deeply and trying not to catch the staring eye of her suspicious papa who is aware that she is far too composed for a Valentine’s evening as compared to previous years.  Instead, Voncille glances with anticipation towards the country road, occasionally looking towards Mrs. Henderson, who, even after thirty minutes, cannot seem to maneuver the chunky camera borrowed from a neighbor.  Cars honk as they pass by the camera spectacle in the front lawn of this pious farming family - of course, the passing young men do nothing for fear of fatherly defenses.  But, one waves politely and gives a gentlemanly smile towards the family as he passes.  She blushes and fidgets with the embroidery on her dress.  Mr. Henderson, however, rises and begins walking towards the mailbox to “watch the sunset” with a grizzly, protective expression on his face. Vallorie nudges her blushing sister and giggles ever so slightly.  “I think I’ve done fixed this crazy camera!” Mrs. Henderson exclaims... “Darlings you better smile quickly.  This thing isn’t well-mannered.” 
    An exclamation. A click. A moment in time is captured.  Something that will never be repeated.  Two souls, two sets of emotions, two dreams and hopes permanently seized in time and space.  The moment is over before it begins, and the girls are off to the dance.  Mamma and Papa are mumbling over the camera as the girls walk past the picket fence.  Vallorie runs ahead, but Voncille turns back to see her father leaning on the mailbox, watching them leave - a shotgun still in his hand...
(Vallorie Henderson and Voncille Henderson, mid-1930's)

For the wonderful counterpart of this weekly themed writing project, click here: http://thebeatlesandblackcoffee.blogspot.com

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weekly Creative Writing #9

I reflect things. I identify myself by identifying others.  When people look at me, all they see are themselves and the world around them.  And to be ever so particular, not just any “person” looks at me.  Only dancers glance into my thinness.  I remember the days when I was cast, delivered and placed on this enormous wall.  My smaller family members were kindly shipped off to some cozy home, but what did I get?  I didn’t get a small family that would eventually put me in a yard sale or forget to dust me.  I became a studio mirror.  I am the kind of 12' by 100' frame never meant for home life, but for a long career in the world of the Fine Arts.  And to be quite honest, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  

During the fifty years I have spent in this studio, a few educated, philosophical concepts have seeped into my glass.  For instance, the truth that you can learn more about something by observing it from a distance, than to immediately participate in or with it.  For many years, I was unhappy - doing nothing more than watching humans, specifically dancers, walking in and out of this studio.  Life seemed incredibly meaningless.   But, one day, the elderly teacher, Mr. Stanson, reproved his little toddler class.  They were not observing and appreciating the beauty of a professional dancer contained in a little electronic, image-projecting machine called the “TV.” I realized that maybe I was being rather like those little toddlers adorned in pink things.  So I began to try observing people - not to just sulk in the loneliness of the moving dark which surrounds me. 

You learn quite a bit about the human nature when you see humans, but they never see you. You learn quite a bit about girls, too, when you spectate fifty years of female tendencies. But, I never get to know the teachers very well, since they always stand with their back to me.  The teachers are all quite the same, although there have been some special ones, I’ll admit.  The motherly and fatherly teachers, specifically.  The ones who forget to look at the clock and end class remarkably late, or the ones who stay an hour later to counsel a ballerina who has been torn limb-by-limb by the cruel world out there. They are a kind souls... but the dancers are the most intriguing to me.

So many different kinds of dancers... yet, there is an identifiable consistency among them.  They all come here, to this studio, to make something beautiful, something special, something set apart from whatever struggles they find in that vast world I’ve never seen.  And they all struggle.  Every young girl that comes in worries about how she looks in my eyes - tugging at her leotard or gazing at me with a very disappointed expression.  Of course, I’ve learned not to take this personally, since all she is seeing is herself.  I merely reflect to her what is real, and, in my opinion, remarkably beautiful, but she bends the reality I give her into a fraud reality.  She’s quite unhappy, as are all of the girls like her.  When I see them so concerned about how appealing their reflections are, I wonder what a deceitful world it must be beyond this studio to make them think that beauty is other than what it is.  Fear and uncertainty.  I see those things a lot. 

Oh, and pride.  It is rather a good thing I have no arms.  Otherwise, I would be most willing to spank the little divas who think their presence heals the world of its wounds and mends the deepest cuts in the soul of man.  I regret to say that pride is more common in this studio than I wish.  I suppose when you have the ability to make something beautiful, like dance, you would feel entitled to something.  Perhaps all those smirks, haughty eyes, cutting glances or confident poses are just trying to cover something beneath.  The fact that no matter how they try, they will never actually be perfect at this.  And that scares them.  Rather like the moving darkness that I live in scares me, because I know no reality outside of it. 

But, most of all I see beauty.  And, oh, do I envy it!  They have the ability to be beautiful!  To make something!  To bring into being that which is capable of being other than it is!  And there are so many times I wish I was built to absorb this beauty, than just to reflect it.  So many times I wish I could dance with them.  But, I can’t.  And I just wish sometimes they would be more grateful for the beauty they have all to themselves.  My world is their eyes, their feet, classical music, and four walls.  If only I could step out of this moving darkness, greet a world that begs for beauty and dance.  

For the brilliant counterpart of this weekly themed concurrent writing project:  http://thebeatlesandblackcoffee.blogspot.com